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Mol Microbiol. 2000 May;36(4):876-85.

Growth phase-dependent expression and degradation of histones in the thermophilic archaeon Thermococcus zilligii.

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Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand.


HTz is a member of the archaeal histone family. The archaeal histones have primary sequences and structural similarity to the eukaryal histone fold domain, and are thought to resemble the archetypal ancestor of the eukaryal nucleosome core histones. The effects of growth phase on the total soluble proteins from Thermococcus zilligii, isolated after various stages of growth from mid-logarithmic to late stationary phase, were examined by denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. On entry into stationary phase, at least 11 proteins were detected that changed considerably in level. One of these proteins was identified by Western hybridization as HTz. The level of HTz decreased dramatically as cells entered stationary phase, and it could not be detected by late stationary phase. Unexpectedly, the Western hybridization detected a second protein, with an estimated molecular mass of approximately 14 kDa, which paralleled the decrease in level of HTz. Native purified HTz was shown to retain complete activity after prolonged incubation at the growth temperature of the organism, suggesting that the decrease in HTz was a specific cell-regulated process. Analysis of native purified HTz by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry revealed the molecular masses of HTz1 and HTz2 to be 7204 +/- 3 Da and 7016 +/- 3 Da respectively. The only non-covalent species that was detected corresponded to the molecular mass of an HTz1-HTz2 heterodimer. Northern analyses of T. zilligii total RNA with an htz1 gene probe indicated a rapid decrease in expression of htz1 with progression of the growth phase, and complete repression of htz1 transcript synthesis by late logarithmic phase. Three proteins that changed in level with growth phase were identified by N-terminal sequence analysis. The first was homologous to a hypothetical protein conserved in all Archaea sequenced to date, the second to the Sac10b family of archaeal DNA-binding proteins and the third to the C-terminal region of the leucine-responsive regulatory family of DNA-binding proteins (LRPs).

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