The binding of deoxyribonucleoprotein to Toluidine Blue, to cetylpyridinium chloride and to polylysine of various molecular weights was studied to determine the percentage of free DNA phosphate groups in deoxyribonucleoprotein. Binding was measured by addition of these reagents to deoxyribonucleoprotein at a range of concentrations such that complete precipitation of the deoxyribonucleoprotein occurred. With Toluidine Blue the binding corresponded to about 48% of the DNA phosphates in deoxyribonucleoprotein. The dye did not cause appreciable displacement of protein from the DNA. With cetylpyridinium chloride the binding corresponded to about 41% of the DNA phosphates. With polylysine preparations of molecular weight 1250 and 7790 the binding values for deoxyribonucleoprotein were 46 and 38% respectively. The results suggest that the free phosphates lie in stretches sufficiently long to accommodate most of each polylysine molecule. With polylysine of molecular weight 62000 cross-linking of free stretches of DNA on different deoxyribonucleoprotein molecules probably occurs. It is concluded that although most of the free phosphates are probably ‘hidden’ beneath covering histone, corresponding perhaps to runs of non-basic residues in the latter, they are surprisingly accessible to very large molecules. The relevance of this finding to the problem of gene repression is discussed.

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