SCOTT CAMAZINE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCOTT CAMAZINE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Human female chromosomes. Computer representation based on a light micrograph of the 46 chromosomes from a normal human female. This constitutes the full karyotype, that is the total number of chromosomes found in each cell of the female human body. Each cell contains 22 matched pairs of chromosomes, and one sex-determining pair (bottom right). Male and female karyotypes differ only in the sex pair: a male set would be labelled XY instead of the XX here. A normal female karyotype is written: 46,XX. Chromosomes are made up mainly of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), some proteins, and small amounts of RNA. They carry genes that determine an individual's characteristics.
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