Revista chilena de historia natural
versión impresa ISSN 0716-078X
TORO, G. CECILIA. Evolution of the histones: free play with exon shuffling. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2001, vol.74, n.1, pp. 167-175. ISSN 0716-078X. doi: 10.4067/S0716-078X2001000000020.
In higher eukaryotes, the nuclear DNA is organized for transcription, replication and mitosis in competent chromatin and chromosomes. The basic unit of chromatin is the nucleosome. This entity is formed by 168 base pairs of DNA wound around an octamer of histones, this octamer of histones consist of two copies of H2A, H2B, H3 and H4. The DNA is sealed in its input and output point by a histone linker: histone H1. Histones were supposed to be very conserved proteins. However, during the past few years it was found that these proteins present a high degree of divergency in several lower eukaryotes. In Trypanosoma, it was found that histones H3 and H4, which are at the center of the nucleosomal organization, showed more than 30 % of divergency, while histone H1 corresponded to only one of the three peptide domains present in higher eukaryotes. These features of Trypanosoma histones may explain, at least in part, the unability of chromatin to condense into chromosomes during the cell division in these parasites. Evolution of histones was usually considered as peculiar, with several proposals which are difficult to reconcile with experimental data. In the present work, it is proposed that histones followed the same evolutionary route as many other proteins. Considering that exons code for structural and functional domains in proteins and that, at the origin of eukaryotes, the histones, as other proteins, could be formed by "units" (mecano theory), it was expected that these units or domains eventually would be found in living organisms exhibiting primitive features. Furthermore, those units could work independently. Our results on the structure of Trypanosoma cruzi histone genes and proteins as well as the analysis of other histones from different species fit with this proposal
Palabras clave : histones; evolution.