1. Acetylation of histones by an enzyme system derived from rat brain and liver (histone acetylase) was studied by using [1-14C]acetyl-CoA as the acetyl group donor. 2. The activity of this enzyme was largely confined to the nucleus. 3. Histone-acetylating activity of cerebral nuclei purified by centrifugation through 1.9m-sucrose was not altered by the presence of the cytoplasmic fraction. 4. Cerebral nuclei from adult rats exhibited greater histone-acetylating activity than did the corresponding preparation from newborn animals. 5. Nuclear acetylating activity was higher in brain than in liver of adult rats but not in newborn animals. 6. The partially purified enzyme from cerebral nuclei, prepared by ammonium sulphate fractionation of an acetone-dried powder, specifically catalysed histone acetylation. 7. Polylysine, protamine, serum albumin and γ-globulin were not enzymically acetylated by this preparation. 8. Soluble acetylating preparations from both brain and liver nuclei were more active towards arginine-rich F3 and slightly lysine-rich F2a and F2b histone fractions than towards the lysine-rich F1 fraction. 9. Enzymic acetylation of chromatin-bound proteins was much less extensive than that of free histones. 10. The high histone acetylase activity in mature brain may reflect the importance of this process in the genetic control of cerebral function.

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