Serum of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) contains crossreacting autoantibodies which recognize histones in nucleosomes or when they are induced to form octamers in solution in the presence of 2 M NaCl, but not when they are dissociated free in solution at physiological ionic strength. We have found that histones stored in eggs of Xenopus laevis for use in rapid nuclear synthesis during early development react with this antibody. This reaction has been observed by radioimmunoassay, inhibition of chromatin assembly by the extracts in the presence of antibody, and, in a preliminary result, by identification of a histone-antibody complex bound to protein A-sepharose. Further evidence that the extract antigen corresponds to the stored histone pool comes from sedimentation and charge fractionation experiments where the chromatin assembly activity and antigen (measured by radioimmunoassay) were found to cofractionate. BEcause the extract histones are not bound to DNA, our results suggest that they are stored as a soluble complex in a conformation similar or identical to the octameric core of the nucleosome. Our data suggest that the histones in this complex are bound to an anionic factor or factors which presumably replaces the DNA in shielding the positive charges on the histones.

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