Metaphase chromosome structure. Involvement of topoisomerase II.
SCI is a prominent, 170,000 Mr, non-histone protein of HeLa metaphase chromosomes. This protein binds DNA and was previously identified as one of the major structural components of the residual scaffold structure obtained by differential protein extraction from isolated chromosomes. The metaphase scaffold maintains chromosomal DNA in an organized, looped conformation. We have prepared a polyclonal antibody against the SC1 protein. Immunolocalization studies by both fluorescence and electron microscopy allowed identification of the scaffold structure in gently expanded chromosomes. The micrographs show an immunopositive reaction going through the kinetochore along a central, axial region that extends the length of each chromatid. Some micrographs of histone-depleted chromosomes provide evidence of the substructural organization of the scaffold; the scaffold appears to consist of an assembly of foci, which in places form a zig-zag or coiled arrangement. We present several lines of evidence that establish the identity of SC1 as topoisomerase II. Considering the enzymic nature of this protein, it is remarkable that it represents 1% to 2% of the total mitotic chromosomal protein. About 60% to 80% of topoisomerase II partitions into the scaffold structure as prepared from isolated chromosomes, and we find approximately three copies per average 70,000-base loop. This supports the proposed structural role of the scaffold in the organization of the mitotic chromosome. The dual enzymic and apparent structural function of topoisomerase II (SC1) and its location at or near the base of chromatin loops allows speculation as to its involvement in the long-range control of chromatin structure.