Exchange of histones H1, H2A, and H2B in vivo

Biochemistry. 1985 Jun 18;24(13):3080-5. doi: 10.1021/bi00334a002.


We have asked whether histones synthesized in the absence of DNA synthesis can exchange into nucleosomal structures. DNA synthesis was inhibited by incubating hepatoma tissue culture cells in medium containing 5.0 mM hydroxyurea for 40 min. During the final 20 min, the cells were pulsed with [3H]lysine to radiolabel the histones (all five histones are substantially labeled under these conditions). By two electrophoretic techniques, we demonstrate that histones H1, H2A, and H2B synthesized in the presence of hydroxyurea do not merely associate with the surface of the chromatin but instead exchange with preexisting histones so that for the latter two histones there is incorporation into nucleosome structures. On the other hand, H3 and H4 synthesized during this same time period appear to be only weakly bound, if at all, to chromatin. These two histones have been isolated from postnuclear washes and purified. Some possible implications of in vivo exchange are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • DNA Replication / drug effects
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Histones / biosynthesis
  • Histones / isolation & purification
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Hydroxyurea / pharmacology
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Nucleosomes / drug effects
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Thymidine / metabolism


  • Histones
  • Nucleosomes
  • Thymidine
  • Hydroxyurea