The H1 histones serve as general repressors of gene expression by inducing the formation of a compact chromatin structure, whereas the high-mobility-group (HMG) non-histone chromosomal proteins have roles in maintaining the structure and function of transcriptionally active chromatin. The distribution of the H1 histone subtypes and HMG proteins among various trout tissues (liver, hepatocellular carcinoma, testis and erythrocyte) was determined. Histone H1b was present in the chromatin of liver, but not in the chromatin of hepatocellular carcinoma, testis or erythrocyte. Nuclease-resistant regions of liver chromatin had elevated levels of histone H1b. Histone H1b was isolated, and the N-terminal amino acid sequence of histone H1b was found to be highly similar to that of mammalian histone H1(0) and duck H5. HMG proteins T1, T2, T3, H6, C, D and F were associated with liver and hepatocellular-carcinoma chromatin, with hepatocellular carcinoma containing higher levels of HMG T1 and F. Testis and erythrocyte had HMG T2 and H6 as their predominant HMG proteins. Most of the HMG H6 of hepatocellular carcinoma, but not of liver, was located in a chromatin fraction that was soluble at physiological ionic strength and enriched in transcriptionally active DNA. These alterations in the chromatin distribution and content of hepatocyte HMG proteins and H1 histone subtypes may contribute to aberrant hepatocyte gene expression in the hepatocellular carcinoma.

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