The structure of the kinetochore in thin section has been studied in the Indian muntjac by an electron spectroscopic imaging technique. This procedures allows the analysis of the distribution of phosphorus within the layers of the kinetochore. The results indicate that this element is a major component of both the inner and outer plates whereas it is largely absent in the middle plate and fibrous corona. The majority of the phosphorus is localized to a 30-nm fiber(s) that is woven through the layers of the kinetochore. The presence of phosphorus within this fiber, along with its morphological and biochemical features, indicates that it contains DNA. The fiber(s) occupies a major portion of the inner and outer plate where it forms a series of rows. It is rarely observed in the middle layer except where it passes between the inner and outer layers. The absence of structure in the middle plate suggests that it may represent a space rather than a plate that in turn may be related to the function of this region. The distribution of phosphorus within the kinetochore is neither altered by treatment with colcemid nor by the presence of microtubules at the kinetochore. Analysis of conventional micrographs of the kinetochore together with structural information obtained by electron spectroscopic imaging suggests that most microtubules insert and terminate between the rows of kinetochore fibers in the outer plate. However, some microtubules continue through the middle layer and terminate at the lower plate. The insertion of microtubules at different levels of the kinetochore may reflect the existence of functionally distinct microtubule classes. Electron spectroscopic imaging indicates that the microtubules associated with the kinetochore are phosphorylated.

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