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The Journal of Biological Chemistry








We have undertaken the purification of ribosomal RNA gene (rDNA) chromatin from the slime mold Physarum polycephalum, in order to study its chromatin structure. In this organism rDNA exists in nucleoli as highly repeated minichromosomes, and one can obtain crude chromatin fractions highly enriched in rDNA from isolated nucleoli. We first developed a nucleolar isolation method utilizing polyamines as stabilization agents that results in a chromatin fraction containing far more protein than is obtained by the more commonly used divalent cation isolation methods. The latter method appears to result in extensive histone loss during chromatin isolations. Two methods were then used for purifying rDNA chromatin from nucleoli isolated by the polyamine procedure. We found that rDNA chromatin migrates as a single band in agarose gels, well separated from other components in the chromatin preparation. Although the utility of this technique is somewhat limited by low yields and by progressive stripping of protein from rDNA chromatin, it can provide useful information about rDNA chromatin protein composition. The application of this technique to the fractionation of gene and spacer chromatin fragments produced by restriction enzyme digestion is discussed. We also found that rDNA chromatin, if RNase-treated, bands discretely in metrizamide equilibrium density gradients with a density lighter than that of non-nucleolar chromatin. These characteristics suggest that we have identified a transcriptionally active rDNA chromatin fraction which possesses a lower protein to DNA ratio than does non-nucleolar chromatin. This technique yields sufficient purified rDNA chromatin for further biochemical studies and does not cause extensive protein stripping. The procedures developed here should be applicable to the analysis of a variety of chromatin fractions in other systems.


0000-0002-4231-9488 (Ogle)

Original Publication Citation

Amero, S.A., Ogle, R.C., Keating, J.L., Montoya, V.L., Murdoch, W.L., & Grainger, R.M. (1988). The purification of ribosomal rna gene chromatin from physarum polycephalum. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 263(22), 10725-10733.