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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Aug 1990; 87(15): 5788–5791.

HMf, a DNA-binding protein isolated from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Methanothermus fervidus, is most closely related to histones.


Methanothermus fervidus grows optimally at 83 degrees C. A protein designated HMf (histone M. fervidus) has been isolated from this archaeal hyperthermophile that binds to double-stranded DNA molecules and increases their resistance to thermal denaturation. HMf binding to linear double-stranded DNA molecules of greater than 2 kilobase pairs also increases their electrophoretic mobilities through agarose gels. Visualization of this compaction process by electron microscopy has demonstrated the formation of quasispherical, macromolecular HMf-DNA complexes. HMf is a mixture of approximately equal amounts of two very similar polypeptides designated HMf-1 and HMf-2. Determination of the DNA sequence of the gene encoding HMf-2 (hmfB) has revealed that over 30% of the amino acid residues in HMf-2 are conserved in the consensus sequences derived for eucaryal histones H2A, H2B, H3, and H4. These archaeal polypeptides and eucaryal histones appear therefore to have evolved from a common ancestor and are likely to have related structures and functions.

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