In this study, DNA-depleted nuclear protein matrices are isolated from HeLa S3 cells. These nuclear matrices consist of peripheral laminae, residual nucleoli, and internal fibrillar structures. High molecular weight, heterogeneous nuclear RNA (hnRNA) is quantitatively associated with these structures and can be released intact only by affecting the integrity of the matrices. It is, therefore, concluded that hnRNA is part of a highly organized nuclear structure. By irradiation of intact cells or isolated nuclear matrices with ultraviolet light, proteins tightly associated with hnRNA can be induced to cross-link with the RNA. Performing the cross-linking in vivo is an extra guarantee that only hnRNA-protein (hnRNP) complexes existing in the intact cell are covalently linked. Such hnRNP complexes were isolated and purified under conditions that completely dissociate nonspecific RNA-protein complexes. By comparison of the hnRNP found in nuclear matrices and the published data on the composition of hnRNP particles, it was found that the so-called hnRNP "packaging" proteins (32,000-38,000 mol wt) were not efficiently cross-linked to hnRNA by UV irradiation. They were, however, present in the matrix preparations, bound to hnRNA, because they were released from nuclear matrices after ribonuclease treatment of these structures. On the other hand, two major hnRNPs (41,500 and 43,000 mol wt) were efficiently cross-linked to hnRNA. These proteins were not released by ribonuclease treatment, which suggests that they are involved in the binding of hnRNA to the nuclear matrix.

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