Because the mechanisms that govern mitosis are a key to the understanding of cell growth, the proteins associated with chromosomes specifically during this phase have received thorough attention. In the present work we report an Mr 58000 protein in MDCK epithelial cells, recognized by a monoclonal antibody (LFM-1) that decorates chromosomes during M-phase. Cell fractionation methods followed by immunoblotting and immunofluorescence showed that this protein is associated with the nuclear fraction. Biochemical extraction procedures on isolated metaphase chromosomes from nocodazole-synchronized cells indicated that the Mr 58000 protein behaves as a chromosomal scaffold protein, that is, it remains in the pellets after high salt (2 M NaCl) or 3'-5' diiodosalicylic acid treatments, even in DNAse pre-digested samples. In addition, confocal microscopy of those chromosomes revealed the LFM-1 epitopes distributed on the external surface and the axis of chromatids. Parallel analysis of interphase nuclei revealed LFM-1 epitopes inside G1-, but excluded from G2-phase nuclei. These results were independently confirmed on nuclei sorted by flow cytometry and in cell populations synchronized by release of G1-/S-phase hydroxyurea arrest. The Mr 58000 and a minor Mr 38000 protein (which was enriched only in mitotic chromosomes of synchronized cells) were analyzed by Edman degradation. They shared the sequence at the amino-terminal end but failed to show total homology with known proteins. These results suggest that LFM-1 antigens fit some of the predictions of the licensing factor model, and may have a role in cell cycle dependent events.
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