An acute effect of antigens on the nuclear histones of mouse thymocytes was investigated by means of cytophotometric measurements of thymocytes stained with ammoniacal-silver (A-S) and with fast green (FG). In addition, the DNA content was measured in terms of Feulgen staining. In terms of such staining it appeared that nuclei of control thymocytes contain a greater amount of nuclear histones and a higher histone/DNA ratio than do renal cell nuclei from the same animal. Within 1 hour after the injection of antigen the thymocyte nuclei appear to lose approximately 32 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, of A-S and FG stainable nuclear proteins, while the Feulgen staining remains unchanged. Since the renal cell nuclei show no antigen-induced change in histone staining, the histone staining and histone/DNA ratios were found to be similar in the thymocytes and renal cells of the antigen-injected mice. The antigen-induced loss of thymocyte histones was also found to be associated with a change in the color of the A-S staining, from yellowish brown to black. This and other findings suggest that thymocyte nuclei contain an antigen-labile, lysine-rich histone. The implication of these observations in regard to the phenomenon of immunological competence is discussed and the need for continued investigation indicated.

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