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Dev Biol. 1983 Feb;95(2):421-8.

Changes in nucleosomal core histone variants during chicken development and maturation.


The nucleosomal core histones H2A, H2B, and H3 of the chicken can be resolved by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in the presence of nonionic detergents into two primary structure variants each, which occur in different relative amounts in various adult tissues. Quantitative analysis of the histone components throughout embryonic development and posthatching maturation of the chicken revealed that the proportions of the three pairs of variants change independently. Thus, the two H2A variants occur in similar proportions throughout embryonic development and in all adult tissues. In contrast, only one variant each of H2B and H3 is detectable at the earliest stages (primitive streak). The second variant of these histones becomes detectable and increases gradually during somite formation (2-12 days of incubation) to reach a plateau at a level of about 3 and 10% of total H2B and H3 histones, respectively. After hatching, the relative amounts of the minor H2B and H3 variants remain at embryonic levels in those tissues which maintain a high mitotic activity such as blood-forming tissues, but increase with different kinetics in tissues which essentially stop cell division in adults (e.g., liver, kidney, etc.). However, while H2B.2 remains a very minor component in all tissues, H3.3 increases at a relatively high rate for more than a year to become the predominant H3 variant in the liver and kidney of older chickens. The changes in chicken core histone variant proportions appear to be related to changes in growth rate rather than cell differentiation. The extensive change of H3 variant proportions in nondividing adult tissues is most likely due to replication-independent incorporation of H3.3 into nucleosomes.

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