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Chromosome: Structure & Function


Among many organisms that have separate sexes, there are two basic types of chromosomes: sex chromosomes and autosomes. Autosomes control the inheritance of all the characteristics except the sex-linked ones, which are controlled by the sex chromosomes. Humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes. All act in the same way during cell division. For information on sex-linked characteristics, see linkage group.


Chromosome breakage is the physical breakage of subunits of a chromosome. It is usually followed by reunion (frequently at a foreign site, resulting in a chromosome unlike the original). Breakage and reunion of homologous chromosomes during meiosis are the basis for the classical model of crossing over, which results in unexpected types of offspring of a mating.


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