Previous studies have described the existence of high mobility group (HMG)-like proteins in macronuclei of the ciliated protozoan, Tetrahymena thermophila (Hamana, K., and K. Iwai, 1979, J. Biochem. [Tokyo], 69:1097-1111; Levy-Wilson, B., M. S. Denker, and E. Ito, 1983, Biochemistry, 22:1715-1721). In this report, two of these proteins, LG-1 and LG-2, have been further characterized. Polyclonal antibodies raised against LG-1 and LG-2 fail to cross react with each other or any other macronuclear polypeptide in immunoblotting analyses. As well, LG-1 and LG-2 antibodies do not react with calf thymus, chicken, or yeast HMG proteins. Consistent with these results, a 47 amino-terminal sequence of LG-1 has been determined that shows limited homology to both calf thymus HMGs 1 and 2 and HMGs 14 and 17. Two internal sequences of V8 protease-generated peptides from LG-2 have been determined, and these do not share any homology to the LG-1 sequence or any other sequenced HMG proteins. Comparison of the partial sequences of LG-1 and LG-2 with the complete amino acid sequence of the Tetrahymena histone H1 (Wu, M., C. D. Allis, R. Richman, R. G. Cook, and M. A. Gorovsky, 1986, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 83:8674-8678) rules out the possibility that LG-1 and LG-2 are proteolytically derived from H1, the other major macronuclear perchloric acid-soluble protein. Interestingly, however, both LG-1 and LG-2 are efficiently extracted from macronuclei by elutive intercalation (Schröter, H., G. Maier, H. Ponsting, and A. Nordheim, 1985, Embo (Eur. Mol. Biol. Organ.) J., 4:3867-3872), suggesting that both may share yet undetermined properties with HMGs 14 and 17 of higher eukaryotes. Examination of the pattern of LG-1 and LG-2 synthesis during the sexual phase of the life cycle, conjugation, demonstrates that the synthesis of LG-1 and LG-2 is coordinately increased from basal levels during the differentiation of new macronuclei (7-13 h), suggesting that both of these proteins play a role in determining a macronuclear phenotype. However, a specific induction of LG-2 synthesis is detected in early stages of conjugation (meiotic prophase, 1-4 h), leading to maximal synthesis of LG-2 at 3 h. Interestingly, the early induction of LG-2 synthesis closely parallels the hyperphosphorylation of histone H1. Taken together, these data suggest that LG-1 and LG-2 are not strongly related to each other or to higher eukaryotic HMG proteins.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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