The histone 2A proteins of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus are compared with those of the mouse. While the major H2As in these two organisms do not comigrate on two-dimensional gels, the sea urchin contains a protein that comigrates with the minor histone 2A variant H2A.Z from mammals. H2A.Z is of particular interest because its sequence homology with other H2As is quite low, and it is not phosphorylated as are other H2As. A comparison of the tryptic peptide patterns of several H2As from sea urchin blastulae and mouse L1210 cells show that, while the patterns of the H2A.Zs differ greatly from the patterns of the other H2As, the patterns of the mouse and sea urchin H2A.Zs are very similar. Since the H2A.Zs have only one or two peptides in common with the other H2As, the conservation of their sequence indicates that H2A.Zs have evolved under somewhat different selective pressures from other H2As. Unlike all the other sea urchin H2As whose syntheses either turn on or off during early development, H2A.Z seems to be synthesized continuously throughout this period.U

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