1. The addition of heparin to rat liver, kidney, or brain nuclei has been found to bring about the release of a gel. Chemical analysis and histochemical studies on whole homogenates and isolated nuclei demonstrated that the material released by heparin contained desoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and protein. The action of heparin on nuclei is interpreted as the result of a combination with the basic proteins of the nucleus with a consequent displacement of DNA.
2. The addition of heparin to a finely divided dilute liver homogenate prepared in a phosphate-sucrose solution at pH 7.1 brings about a marked increase in viscosity which reaches a maximum in 6 to 8 minutes at 23° and then declines.
3. The concentration threshold for the viscosity effect was 0.1 mg. per 100 mg. fresh rat liver, with further increases in viscosity at higher heparin concentrations. Over a period of several hours a marked decrease in response to heparin was observed in homogenates stored at 0°.
4. Fractionation of the homogenate demonstrated that the viscosity increase was due to the presence of the nuclei alone, other components showing no effect. Microscopic observation showed that the increase in viscosity was associated with the appearance of a clear gel around nuclei treated with heparin.
5. Heparin brought about the release of DNA from the nuclei of incubated rat liver, kidney, and brain homogenates. In some instances over half the DNA is found in the supernatant after high speed centrifugation (20 minutes, 21,000 x g).
6. No correlation was found between anticoagulant activity of heparin preparations and their effectiveness in causing an increase in the viscosity of liver homogenates. Desulfated heparin produced none of the results described here for heparin.