The histone compositions of a chromatin fraction containing ribosomal DNA and of the remaining macronuclear chromatin of Tetrahymena pyriformis was analysed by gel electrophoresis. These chromatin fractions were used as models for transcriptionally active and inactive chromatin respectively. The extent of histone modification, as indicated by the distribution of histone between differently charged subspecies in acid-urea gels, is not grossly different in the two chromatin fractions. However, histone H1 is present, but may be differently modified in the two chromatin fractions. The histone/DNA ratio in ribosomal chromatin, measured after sodium dodecyl sulphate/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis of samples of chromatin, was found to be the same whether chromatin was extracted from growing or stationary organisms, and to be approx. 40% of this ratio in the remaining macronuclear chromatin. The implications of these results for the possible structure of transcriptionally active chromatin are discussed.

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