Background information: H1 histones are a protein family comprising several subtypes. Although specific functions of the individual subtypes could not be determined so far, differential roles are indicated by varied nuclear distributions as well as differential expression patterns of the H1 subtypes. Although the group of replication-dependent H1 subtypes is synthesized during S phase, the replacement H1 subtype, H1 degrees , is also expressed in a replication-independent manner in non-proliferating cells. Recently we showed, by protein biochemical analysis, that the ubiquitously expressed subtype H1x is enriched in the micrococcal nuclease-resistant part of chromatin and that, although it shares common features with H1 degrees , its expression is differentially regulated, since, in contrast to H1 degrees , growth arrest or induction of differentiation did not induce an accumulation of H1x.
Results: In the present study, we show that H1x exhibits a cell-cycle-dependent change of its nuclear distribution. This H1 subtype showed a nucleolar accumulation during the G(1) phase, and it was evenly distributed in the nucleus during S phase and G(2). Immunocytochemical analysis of the intranucleolar distribution of H1x indicated that it is located mainly in the condensed nucleolar chromatin. In addition, we demonstrate that the amount of H1x protein remained nearly unchanged during S phase progression, which is in contrast to the replication-dependent subtypes.
Conclusion: These results suggest that the differential localization of H1x provides a mechanism for a control of H1x activity by means of shuttling between nuclear subcompartments instead of a controlled turnover of the protein.