Research Article

Trypanosoma brucei brucei: differences in the nuclear chromatin of bloodstream forms and procyclic culture forms

W. Schlimmea1, M. Burria1, K. Bendera1, B. Betscharta1 and H. Heckera1*

a1 Swiss Tropical Institute, Postfach CH-4402, Basel, Switzerland


Nucleosome filaments of two stages of the life-cycle of Trypanosoma brucei brucei, namely bloodstream forms and procyclic culture forms, were investigated by electron microscopy. Chromatin of bloodstream forms showed a salt-dependent condensation. The level of condensation was higher than that shown by chromatin from procyclic culture forms, but 30 nm fibres as formed in rat liver chromatin preparations were not found. Analysis of histones provided new evidence for the existence of H1-like proteins, which comigrated in the region of the core histones in SDS–PAGE and in front of the core histones in Triton acid urea gels. Differences were found between the H1-like proteins of the two trypanosome stages as well as between the core histones in their amount, number of bands and banding pattern. It can be concluded that T. b. brucei contains a full set of histones, including H1-like proteins, and that the poor condensation of its chromatin is not due to the absence of H1, but most probably due to histone–DNA interaction being weak. It is obvious that structural and functional differences of the chromatin exist not only between T. b. brucei and higher eukaryotes, but also between various stages of the life-cycle of the parasite. It is therefore not adequate to investigate the chromatin only of the procyclic culture forms as a model for all stages of the life-cycle of T. b. brucei.

(Received December 09 1992)

(Revised March 01 1993)

(Accepted March 01 1993)


* Reprint requests to Professor H. Hecker.