Acceptor proteins for poly(ADP-ribose) have been purified from mouse testis nuclei. Nuclear proteins were labelled in vitro with [14C]ribose and [3H]adenine, extracted with 5% (v/v) HClO4 and 0.25 M-HCl and separated by ion-exchange chromatography. Non-histone proteins were found to be the major acceptors in both the 5% (w/v)-HClO4-soluble and 5%-HClO4-insoluble HCl-extractable fractions. Of the two groups of non-histone proteins associated with chromatin, the LMG (low-mobility-group) proteins were preferentially ADP-ribosylated. HMG (high-mobility group) proteins were labelled to lower specific radioactivity. Six LMG proteins were purified to approx. 90% homogeneity and were identified from their mobility on polyacrylamide gels at pH 2.9 and from their amino acid composition. The average length of the poly(ADP-ribose) chain was estimated to be four to six repeating ADP-ribose units. It is suggested that ADP-ribosylation of LMG proteins, a long-neglected group of chromatin-associated proteins, is important during spermatogenesis for the production of spermatozoa with intact and competent DNA.

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