Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 240–246 | Cite as

Replacement of nucleosomal histones by histone H1-like proteins during spermiogenesis in Cnidaria: Evolutionary implications

  • Corinne Rocchini
  • Roswitha M. Marx
  • Joachim Schnorr von Carosfeld
  • Harold E. Kasinsky
  • Ellen Rosenberg
  • Freya Sommer
  • Juan Ausio


We have analyzed the chromosomal protein composition of the sperm from several species belonging to three different classes (Hydrozoa, Scyphozoa, Anthozoa) of the phylum Cnidaria. In every instance, the sperm nuclear basic proteins (SNBPs) were found to consist of one to two major protein fractions that belong to the histone H1 family, as can be deduced from their amino acid composition and solubility in dilute perchloric acid, and the presence of a trypsin-resistant core. In those species where mature spawned sperm could be obtained, we were able to show that these proteins completely replace the somatic histones from the stem cells that are present at the onset of spermatogenesis. The presence of a highly specialized histone H1 molecule in the sperm of this phylum provides support for the idea that the protamine-like proteins (PL) from higher groups in the phylogenetic tree (and possibly protamines as well) may all have evolved from a primitive histone H1 ancestor.

Key words

Sperm nuclear basic proteins (SNBPs) Histone H1 Cnidaria Evolution 



sperm nuclear basic proteins


protamine-like protein


high-performance liquid chromatography


trifluoroacetic acid


polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


perchloric acid


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Corinne Rocchini
    • 1
  • Roswitha M. Marx
    • 1
  • Joachim Schnorr von Carosfeld
    • 1
  • Harold E. Kasinsky
    • 2
  • Ellen Rosenberg
    • 3
  • Freya Sommer
    • 4
  • Juan Ausio
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and MicrobiologyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of BotanyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Monterey Bay AquariumMontereyUSA

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