We have partially isolated the kinetochore and associated centromeric structures from mammalian metaphase chromosomes. Human autoantibodies from scleroderma CREST (calcinosis, Raynaud's phenomenon, esophageal dysmotility, sclerodactyly, telangiectasia) patients were used as immunofluorescent probes to monitor fractionation. The procedure includes digestion of total chromosomal DNA with micrococcal nuclease, dehistonization with heparin, and dissociation of the remaining material with detergent and urea. We used a density gradient (metrizamide) to obtain an enriched fraction of stained material (kinetochore). When examined by electron microscopy, the kinetochore fraction is seen to contain numerous small immunoperoxidase-positive masses which are morphologically similar to the centromere/kinetochore region of intact metaphase chromosomes. The particulate fraction that contains kinetochore components represents less than 5% of total chromosomal proteins and contains less than 1% of total DNA. Two polypeptides of 18 and 80 kD were identified as kinetochore antigens by immunoblotting with CREST antiserum. In this paper we discuss the distribution of these kinetochore polypeptides with the associated centromeric chromatin.

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