The interaction of the non-histone chromosomal protein HMG (high-mobility group) 1 with histone H1 subfractions was investigated by equilibrium sedimentation and n.m.r. sectroscopy. In contrast with a previous report [Smerdon & Isenberg (1976) Biochemistry 15, 4242–4247], it was found, by using equilibrium-sedimentation analysis, that protein HMG 1 binds to all three histone H1 subfractions CTL1, CTL2, and CTL3, arguing against there being a specific interaction between protein HMG 1 and only two of the subfractions, CTL1 and CTL2. Raising the ionic strength of the solutions prevents binding of protein HMG 1 to total histone H1 and the three subfractions, suggesting that the binding in vitro is simply a non-specific ionic interaction between acidic regions of the non-histone protein and the basic regions of the histone. Protein HMG 1 binds to histone H5 also, supporting this view. The above conclusions are supported by n.m.r. studies of protein HMG 1/histone H1 subfraction mixtures. When the two proteins were mixed, there was little perturbation of the n.m.r. spectra and there was no evidence for specific interaction of protein HMG 1 with any of the subfractions. It therefore remains an open question as to whether protein HMG 1 and histone H1 are complexed together in chromatin.

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