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EMBO J. Aug 1993; 12(8): 3237–3247.
PMCID: PMC413591

SAR-dependent mobilization of histone H1 by HMG-I/Y in vitro: HMG-I/Y is enriched in H1-depleted chromatin.


An experimental assay was developed to search for proteins capable of antagonizing histone H1-mediated general repression of transcription. T7 RNA polymerase templates containing an upstream scaffold-associated region (SAR) were highly selectively repressed by H1 relative to non-SAR control templates. This is due to the nucleation of H1 assembly into flanking DNA brought about by the numerous A-tracts (AT-rich sequences containing short homopolymeric runs of dA.dT base pairs) of the SAR. Partial, selective titration of these A-tracts by the high mobility group (HMG) protein HMG-I/Y led to the complete derepression of transcription from the SAR template by inducing the redistribution of H1 on to non-SAR templates. SARs are associated with many highly transcribed regulated genes where they may serve to facilitate the HMG-I/Y-mediated displacement of histone H1 in chromatin. Indeed, HMG-I/Y was found to be strongly enriched in the H1-depleted subfraction which can be isolated from chromatin.

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