Non-histone chromosomal proteins: their role in the regulation of histone-gene expression

Gary S. Stein, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Janet L. Stein, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Lewis J. Kleinsmith, University of Michigan
R. L. Jansing, University of Florida
W. D. Park, University of Florida
Judith A. Thomson, University of Florida


Histone-gene expression was studied during the cell cycle of continuously dividing HeLa S3 cells and after stimulation of confluent monolayers of WI-38 human diploid fibroblasts to proliferate. The presence of histone-mRNA sequences was assayed by hybridization to a 3H-labelled single-stranded DNA complementary to histone-mRNA molecules. In HeLa S3 cells histone mRNA sequences were found in the nucleus and associated with polyribosomes during S-phase, but not during G1-phase. Transcripts of S-phase chromatin contained histone-mRNA sequences, but those of G1-phase chromatin did not. Similarly, in WI-38 cells association of histone-mRNA sequences with polyribosomes and transcription of histone-mRNA sequences from chromatin parallel DNA replication. Taken together these results suggest that the regulation of histone-gene expression resides, at least in part, at the transcriptional level. Chromatin-reconstitution studies provide evidence that non-histone chromosomal proteins play a key role in activation of histone-gene transcription during the period of the cell cycle when DNA is replicated. Phosphate groups associated with the S-phase non-histone chromosomal proteins appear to be functionally involved in the control of histone-gene readout.