To study a possible interaction of nuclear lamins with chromatin, we examined assembly of lamins A and C at mitotic chromosome surfaces in vitro. When a postmicrosomal supernatant of metaphase CHO cells containing disassembled lamins A and C is incubated with chromosomes isolated from mitotic Chinese hamster ovary cells, lamins A and C undergo dephosphorylation and uniformly coat the chromosome surfaces. Furthermore, when purified rat liver lamins A and C are dialyzed with mitotic chromosomes into a buffer of physiological ionic strength and pH, lamins A and C coat chromosomes in a similar fashion. In both cases a lamin-containing supramolecular structure is formed that remains intact when the chromatin is removed by digestion with micrococcal nuclease and extraction with 0.5 M KCl. Lamins associate with chromosomes at concentrations approximately eightfold lower than the critical concentration at which they self-assemble into insoluble structures in the absence of chromosomes, indicating that chromosome surfaces contain binding sites that promote lamin assembly. These binding sites are destroyed by brief treatment of chromosomes with trypsin or micrococcal nuclease. Together, these data suggest the existence of a specific lamin-chromatin interaction in cells that may be important for nuclear envelope reassembly and interphase chromosome structure.

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