A maternal store of histones in unfertilized sea urchin eggs is demonstrated by two independent criteria. Stored histones are identified by their ability to assemble into chromatin of male pronuclei of fertilized sea urchin eggs in the absence of protein synthesis, suggesting a minimum of at least 25 haploid equivalents for each histone present and functional in the unfertilized egg. In addition, electrophoretic analysis of proteins from acid extracts of unfertilized whole eggs and enucleated merogons reveals protein spots comigrating with cleavage stage histone standards, though not with other histone variants found in later sea urchin development or in sperm. Quantification of the amount of protein per histone spot yields an estimate of several hundred haploid DNA equivalents per egg of stored histone. The identity of some of the putative histones was verified by a highly sensitive immunological technique, involving electrophoretic transfer of proteins from the two-dimensional polyacrylamide gels to nitrocellulose filters. Proteins in amounts less than 2 x 10(-4) micrograms can be detected by this method.

This content is only available as a PDF.