A multichaperone nucleosome-remodeling complex that contains the H1 linker histone chaperone nuclear autoantigenic sperm protein (NASP) has recently been described. Linker histones (H1) are required for the proper completion of normal development, and NASP transports H1 histones into nuclei and exchanges H1 histones with DNA. Consequently, we investigated whether NASP is required for normal cell cycle progression and development. We now report that without sufficient NASP, HeLa cells and U2OS cells are unable to replicate their DNA and progress through the cell cycle and that the NASP(-/-) null mutation causes embryonic lethality. Although the null mutation NASP(-/-) caused embryonic lethality, null embryos survive until the blastocyst stage, which may be explained by the presence of stored NASP protein in the cytoplasm of oocytes. We conclude from this study that NASP and therefore the linker histones are key players in the assembly of chromatin after DNA replication.
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