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Dev Biol. 1984 Feb;101(2):282-94.

Histone rearrangements accompany nuclear differentiation and dedifferentiation in Tetrahymena.


Histone synthesis and deposition into specific classes of nuclei has been investigated in starved and conjugating Tetrahymena. During starvation and early stages of conjugation (between 0 and 5 hr after opposite mating types are mixed), micronuclei selectively lose preexisting micronuclear-specific histones alpha, beta, gamma, and H3F. Of these histones, only alpha appears to accumulate in micronuclear chromatin through active synthesis and deposition during the mating process. Curiously, alpha is not observed (by stain or label) in young macronuclear anlagen (4C, 10 hr of conjugation). Thus, young macronuclear anlagen are missing all of the histones which are known to be specific to micronuclei of vegetative cells. By 14-16 hr of conjugation, we observe active synthesis and deposition of macronuclear-specific histones, hv1, hv2, and H1, into new macronuclear anlagen (8C). Thus macronuclear differentiation seems well underway by this time of conjugation. It is also in this time period (14-16 hr) that we first detect significant amounts of micronuclear-specific H1-like polypeptides beta and gamma in micronuclear extracts. These polypeptides do not seem to be synthesized during this period, which suggests that beta and gamma are derived from a precursor molecule(s). Since these micronuclear-specific histones do not appear in micronuclear chromatin until after other micronuclei have been selected to differentiate as macronuclei, we suspect that micronuclear differentiation is also an important process which occurs in 10-16 hr mating cells. Our results also suggest that proteolytic processing of micronuclear H3S into H3F (which occurs in a cell cycle dependent fashion during vegetative growth) is not operative during most if not all of conjugation. Thus micronuclei of mating cells contain only H3S which also seems consistent with the fact that some micronuclei differentiate into new macronuclei (micronuclear H3S is indistinguishable from macronuclear H3). Interestingly, the only H3 synthesized and deposited into the former macronucleus of mating cells is the relatively minor macronuclear-specific H3-like variant, hv2. These results demonstrate that significant histone rearrangements occur during conjugation in Tetrahymena in a manner consistent with the fact that during conjugation some micronuclei eventually differentiate into new macronuclei. Our results suggest that selective synthesis and deposition of specific histones (and histone variants) plays an important role in the nuclear differentiation process in Tetrahymena.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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