A paper in Nature provides insights into how DNA in sperm is packaged during development, which could reflect the role the paternal genome has in the embryo.
During sperm development, the proteins that are used to package DNA, known as histones, are mostly exchanged for protamines -- small basic proteins that form tightly packed DNA structures important for normal sperm function. Whether the rare histones that are not exchanged have any function or are simply randomly distributed remnants has until now been unclear. Bradley Cairns and colleagues used high-resolution genomic approaches to map the histones retained in mature human sperm. Histones are found to be significantly enriched at developmentally important genes and to have distinctive patterns of modification. Therefore, these histones might have been retained for a reason, to perform specific functions in the embryo.
Bradley Cairns (University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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