A dramatic difference is observed in the intracellular distribution of the high mobility group (HMG) proteins when chicken embryo fibroblasts are fractionated into nucleus and cytoplasm by either mass enucleation of cytochalasin-B-treated cells or by differential centrifugation of mechanically disrupted cells. Nuclei (karyoplasts) obtained by cytochalasin B treatment of cells contain more than 90 percent of the HMG 1, while enucleated cytoplasts contain the remainder. A similar distribution between karyoplasts and cytoplasts is observed for the H1 histones and the nucleosomal core histones as anticipated. The presence of these proteins, in low amounts, in the cytoplast preparation can be accounted for by the small percentage of unenucleated cells present. In contrast, the nuclei isolated from mechanically disrupted cells contain only 30-40 percent of the total HMGs 1 and 2, the remainder being recovered in the cytosol fraction. No histone is observed in the cytosol fraction. Unike the higher molecular weight HMGs, most of the HMGs 14 and 17 sediment with the nuclei after cell lysis by mechanical disruption. The distribution of HMGs is unaffected by incubating cells with cytochalasin B and mechanically fractionating rather than enucleating them. Therefore, the dramatic difference in HMG 1 distribution observed using the two fractionation techniques cannot be explained by a cytochalasin-B-induced redistribution. On reextraction and sedimentation of isolated nuclei obtained by mechanical cell disruption, only 8 percent of the HMG 1 is released to the supernate. Thus, the majority of the HMG 1 originally isolated with these nuclei, representing 35 percent of the total HMG 1, is stably bound, as is all the HMGs 14 and 17. The remaining 65 percent of the HMGs 1 and 2 is unstably bound and leaks to the cytosol fraction under the conditions of mechanical disruption. It is suggested that the unstably bound HMGs form a protein pool capable of equilibrating between cytoplasm and stably bound HMGs.

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