The solubilization of nucleosomes and histone H1 with increasing concentrations of NaCl has been investigated in rat liver nuclei that had been digested with micrococcal nuclease under conditions that did not substantially alter morphological properties with respect to differences in the extent of chromatin condensation. The pattern of nucleosome and H1 solubilization was gradual and noncoordinate and at least three different types of nucleosome packing interactions could be distinguished from the pattern. A class of nucleosomes containing 13--17% of the DNA and comprising the chromatin structures most available for micrococcal nuclease attack was eluted by 0.2 M NaCl. This fraction was solubilized with an acid-soluble protein of apparent molecular weight of 20,000 daltons and no histone H1. It differed from the nucleosomes released at higher NaCl concentrations in content of nonhistone chromosomal proteins. 40--60% of the nucleosomes were released by 0.3 M NaCl with 30% of the total nuclear histone H1 bound. The remaining nucleosomes and H1 were solublized by 0.4 M or 0.6 M NaCl. H1 was not nucleosome bound at these ionic strengths, and these fractions contained, respectively, 1.5 and 1.8 times more H1 per nucleosome than the population released by 0.3 M NaCl. These fractions contained the DNA least available for micrococcal nuclease attach. The strikingly different macromolecular composition, availability for nuclease digestion, and strength of the packing interactions of the nucleosomes released by 0.2 M NaCl suggest that this population is involved in a special function.

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