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Plant Mol Biol. 1997 Jul;34(4):629-41.

A drought-stress-inducible histone gene in Arabidopsis thaliana is a member of a distinct class of plant linker histone variants.

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  • 1Department of Plant Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108, USA.


We have isolated and characterized a gene, His1-3, encoding a structurally divergent linker histone in Arabidopsis thaliana. Southern and northern hybridization data indicate that A. thaliana expresses three single-copy linker histone genes, each encoding a structurally distinct variant. H1-3 is a considerably smaller protein (167 amino acids with a mass of 19.0 kDa) than any other described linker histone from higher eukaryotes. We examined the expression of His1-3 at the RNA and protein levels and found that it is induced specifically by water stress. In contrast, expression of His1-1, His1-2 and His4 appear unaffected by water stress. Furthermore, the primary structure of the protein possesses distinct characteristics that are shared with another drought-inducible linker histone, H1-D, isolated from Lycopersicon pennellii. Based on structural characteristics of the deduced protein and its inducible expression, we hypothesize that H1-3 and H1-D are linker histone variants that have specialized roles in the structure and function of plant chromatin and therefore they can be considered to be members of a unique subclass of plant histones. Immunoblotting with an antibody produced against a short polypeptide in the conserved domain of this subtype indicates that similar proteins may exist in other plants.

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