Salt extracts prepared from purified micronuclei and the cytoplasm of growing Tetrahymena contain a histone acetylase (also referred to as histone acetyltransferase) activity which is highly specific for H4 when tested as a free histone. With both extracts, H4 is acetylated first at position 4 (monoacetylated) or positions 4 and 11 (diacetylated), sites diagnostic of deposition-related acetylation of newly synthesized H4 in vivo. As the concentration of cytosolic extract is decreased in the in vitro reactions, acetylation of H3 is also observed. Neither activity acetylates histone in a chromatin form. These activities are distinct from a macronuclear acetylase which acetylates H3 and H4 (macro- or micronuclear) equally well as free histones and which acetylates all four core histones when mononucleosomes are used as substrate. As well, the micronuclear and cytoplasmic activities give similar thermal-inactivation profiles which are different from that of the macronuclear activity. In situ enzyme assays demonstrate a macronuclear-specific activity which acetylates endogenous macronuclear chromatin and an independent micronuclear-cytosolic activity which is able to act upon exogenously added free H4. These results argue strongly that an identical acetylase is responsible for the micronuclear and cytoplasmic activity which is either modified or altogether distinct from that in macronuclei.

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