Medical Definition of Short arm of a chromosome

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Short arm of a chromosome: The short arm of a human chromosome is symbolized by convention as "p". The "p" comes from the French "petit" meaning small. All human chromosomes have 2 arms, the p (short) arm and the q (long) arm. They are separated from each other only by a primary constriction, the centromere, the point at which the chromosome is attached to the spindle during cell division. The symbol "q" was chosen for the long arm simply because it followed "p" in the alphabet.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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