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13.07.20 Sperm carry homogeneous set of methylated histones to programme embryo development

last modified Jul 15, 2020 09:45 AM
Jerome Jullien and colleagues provide evidence for epigenetic homogeneity in sperm, by analysing methylated histone distribution on the genome, across the sperm population in Xenopus and human

Epigenetic homogeneity in histone methylation underlies sperm programming for embryonic transcription

Oikawa M et al. (2020) Nature Communications 11: Article number: 349.

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17238-w


Abstract from the paper

Sperm contributes genetic and epigenetic information to the embryo to efficiently support development. However, the mechanism underlying such developmental competence remains elusive.

Here, we investigated whether all sperm cells have a common epigenetic configuration that primes transcriptional program for embryonic development. Using calibrated ChIP-seq, we show that remodelling of histones during spermiogenesis results in the retention of methylated histone H3 at the same genomic location in most sperm cell.

Oikawa Jullien sperm epigenetic

This homogeneously methylated fraction of histone H3 in the sperm genome is maintained during early embryonic replication. Such methylated histone fraction resisting post-fertilisation reprogramming marks developmental genes whose expression is perturbed upon experimental reduction of histone methylation. A similar homogeneously methylated histone H3 fraction is detected in human sperm.

Altogether, we uncover a conserved mechanism of paternal epigenetic information transmission to the embryo through the homogeneous retention of methylated histone in a sperm cells population.


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