Changes in histones H2A and H3 variant composition in differentiating and mature rat brain cortical neurons

B. Piña, P. Suau

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110 Citations (Scopus)


Rat brain cortical neurons originate from germinal cells during a period of 6 days immediately before birth. Upon leaving the proliferative layer neurons become irreversibly quiescent. We have previously reported the presence of core histone nonallelic variants in terminally differentiated rat brain cortical neurons. Although the functional significance of core histone variants is unknown, several lines of evidence suggest that the processes of variant replacement could be involved in the structural and functional differentiation of chromatin. Here we describe the changes in core histone composition that occur during postnatal development. The changes in chromatin composition are already apparent at birth, suggesting that the change in synthesis patterns is related to the arrest of cell proliferation and neuron commitment. During postnatal development H2A.2, H2A.x, and H3.3 accumulate, whereas H2A.1, H3.1, and H3.2 decrease. H2A.z is the only variant that remains constant. The time courses of replacement and the observed variant proportions when the variant composition approaches the equilibrium suggest that all H2A variants are synthesized either in germinal cells or in neurons, whereas H3.1 and H3.2 seem to be synthesized only in germinal cells. The extent of the replacement of H3.1 and H3.2 by H3.3 shows that the exchange process affects most of the chromatin. The half-life times of H2A.1 and H3.2 were calculated from their respective exponential decays. Values of 65 days or less and 142 days were found for H2A.1 and H3.2, respectively. The preferential replacement of H2A.1 over H3.2 reinforces the view that the histone core does not degrade as a single unit. © 1987.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-58
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1987


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