We have followed the kinetics of staphylococcal nuclease digestion of duck reticulocyte nuclei and chromatin from early stages to the digestion limit. We confirm that partial digestion of nuclei produces discrete DNA bands which are multiples of a monomer, 185 base pairs in length. The multimers are shown to be precursors of the monomer, which is next digested to a homogeneous, 140 base pair fragment. This fragment in turn gives rise to an array of nuclear limit digest DNA bands, which is almost identical with the limit digest pattern of isolated chromatin. As in the case of chromatin, half the DNA of nuclei is acid soluble at this limit. While the DNA limit digest patterns of nuclei and chromatin are similar, the large multimeric structures present as intermediates in nuclear digestion are absent in chromatin digestion. Alternate methods of chromatin gel preparation appear to leave more of the higher order structure intact, as measured by the production of these multimeric bands. Our results are consistent with the “beads on a string” model of chromatin proposed by others.
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