High resolution SDS slab gel electrophoresis has been used to examine the distribution of nonhistone proteins (NHP) in the saline-EDTA, Tris, and 0.35 M NaCl washes of isolated mouse liver nuclei. These studies led to the following conclusions: (a) all the prominent NHP which remain bound to DNA are also present in somewhat similar proportions in the saline-EDTA, Tris, and 0.35 M NaCl washes of nuclei; (b) a protein comigrating with actin is prominent in the first saline-EDTA wash of nuclei, but present as only a minor band in the subsequent washes and on washed chromatin; (c) the presence of nuclear matrix proteins in all the nuclear washes and cytosol indicates that these proteins are distributed throughout the cell; (d) a histone-binding protein (J2) analogous to the HMG1 protein of K. V. Shooter, G.H. Goodwin, and E.W. Johns (Eur J. Biochem. 47:236-270) is a prominent nucleoplasmic protein; (e) quantitation of the major NHP indicates that they are present in a range of 2.2 X 10(5)-5.2 X 10(6) copies per diploid nucleus. Most of the electrophoretically visible NHP are probably structural rather than regulatory proteins; (f) actin, myosin, tubulin, and tropomyosin, if present at all, constitute a very minor fraction of the nuclear NHP. Contractile proteins constitute a major portion of the NHP only when the chromatin is prepared from crude cell lysates instead of from purified nuclei. These studies support the conclusion that there are no clear differences between many nucleoplasmic and chromatin-bound nonhistone proteins. Except for the histones, many of the intranuclear proteins appear to be in equilibrium between DNA, HnRNA, and the nucleoplasm.

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