For the purpose of studying the relationship of small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) to chromatin, we studied the effect of the chromatin-binding agent actinomycin D (AMD) on the nuclei of amoebae. By electron microscopy we noted that when mitotic cells were placed in AMD their chromatin was highly condensed 3 h later. This contrasts strikingly with the situation in untreated cells, in which the chromatin at the same time is largely decondensed. After arranging, by nuclear transplantation of labelled nuclei into unlabelled cytoplasm, for the only labelled molecules in the cell to be 3H-snRNAs, we noted that in such cells similarly treated with AMD the labelled material was clustered in a form quite similar to that of the chromatin in 3-h post-division, AMD-treated cells. In untreated cells the 3H-snRNAs were distributed essentially uniformly throughout the nucleus. These observations, together with earlier findings that snRNAs associate with chromosomes during mitosis, lead us to conclude that snRNAs have a particular affinity for condensed chromatin.

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