Previous papers in this series have reported an acute, transitory effect of antigens on lymphoid cell nuclei. In the previous reports the effect was related to a change in ammoniacal silver (A-S) stainability of smears and cryostat sections. The variable substrate was identified as histone. This paper reports the results of an extended series of studies of histone and chromatin extracts from thymus glands exposed to antigen in vivo and in vitro. The antigen effect on A-S stainability is demonstrable not only in vitro but also in chromatin fibers representing a DNA-histone complex. However, it is not demonstrable in isolated histone fractions. The inference is drawn that the antigen-induced alteration in A-S stainability is brought about not by any quantitative change in histone, but by a biologically significant shift in histone binding, perhaps to DNA. It is suggested that alteration in DNA-histone binding during gene activation may alter A-S stainability of histones.

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