Developmental changes in the expression of high mobility group chromosomal proteins

Massimo P. Crippa, Joanne M. Nickol, Michael Bustin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The high mobility group (HMG) chromosomal proteins may modulate the structure of distinct regions in chromatin, thereby affecting processes such as development and differentiation. Here we report that the levels of the HMG chromosomal proteins and their mRNAs change significantly during erythropoiesis. Erythroid cells from 5-day chicken embryos contain 2.5-10 times more HMG mRNAs than cells from 14-day embryos, whereas circulating cells from adult animals are devoid of HMG and most other mRNAs. Nuclear run-off experiments and Northern analysis of RNA from various developmental stages and from Percoll-fractionated cells indicate that the genes are transcribed in early cells of either the primitive or definitive erythroid lineage. The rate of synthesis of the various HMGs changes during erythropoiesis; in erythroid cells from 7-day embryos the ratio of HMG-14b or HMG-17 to HMG-14a is, respectively, 8 and 10 times lower than in 9-day erythroids. HMG-14a, the major chicken HMG-14 species, is synthesized mainly in primitive cells, while HMG-14b is preferentially synthesized in definitive cells. Thus, the change from primitive to definitive erythroid lineage during embryogenesis is accompanied by a change in the expression of HMG chromosomal proteins. Conceivably, these changes may affect the structure of certain regions in chromatin; however, it is not presently clear whether the switch in HMG protein gene expression is a consequence or a prerequisite for proper differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2712-2714
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Feb 15 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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