Splicing can be epigenetically regulated and involved in cellular differentiation in somatic cells, but the interplay of epigenetic factors and the splicing machinery during spermatogenesis remains unclear. To study these interactions in vivo, we generated a germline deletion of MORF-related gene on chromosome 15 (MRG15), a multifunctional chromatin organizer that binds to methylated histone H3 lysine 36 (H3K36) in introns of transcriptionally active genes and has been implicated in regulation of histone acetylation, homology-directed DNA repair, and alternative splicing in somatic cells. Conditional KO (cKO) males lacking MRG15 in the germline are sterile secondary to spermatogenic arrest at the round spermatid stage. There were no significant alterations in meiotic division and histone acetylation. Specific mRNA sequences disappeared from 66 germ cell-expressed genes in the absence of MRG15, and specific intronic sequences were retained in mRNAs of 4 genes in the MRG15 cKO testes. In particular, introns were retained in mRNAs encoding the transition proteins that replace histones during sperm chromatin condensation. In round spermatids, MRG15 colocalizes with splicing factors PTBP1 and PTBP2 at H3K36me3 sites between the exons and single intron of transition nuclear protein 2 (Tnp2). Thus, our results reveal that MRG15 is essential for premRNA splicing during spermatogenesis and that epigenetic regulation of pre-mRNA splicing by histone modification could be useful to understand not only spermatogenesis but also, epigenetic disorders underlying male infertile patients.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - Sep 13 2016|
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