Differential scanning calorimetry of chromatin isolated from rat liver cells revealed three discrete thermal transitions whose temperatures and melting enthalpies depend on ionic strength in the range 0 to 600 millimolar NaCl. Intact nuclei showed a fourth thermal transition at a lower temperature and different melting enthalpies for the other three transitions still present at temperatures similar to those obtained in isolated chromatin. The data are discussed in terms of the tertiary, quaternary, and quinternary structures of chromatin DNA.

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