Regulated hyperacetylation of core histones during mouse spermatogenesis: involvement of histone deacetylases

Eur J Cell Biol. 2000 Dec;79(12):950-60. doi: 10.1078/0171-9335-00123.


Here we report a detailed analysis of waves of histone acetylation that occurs throughout spermatogenesis in mouse. Our data showed that spermatogonia and preleptotene spermatocytes contained acetylated core histones H2A, H2B and H4, whereas no acetylated histones were observed throughout meiosis in leptotene or pachytene spermatocytes. Histones remained unacetylated in most round spermatids. Acetylated forms of H2A and H2B, H3 and H4 reappeared in step 9 to 11 elongating spermatids, and disappeared later in condensing spermatids. The spatial distribution pattern of acetylated H4 within the spermatids nuclei, analyzed in 3D by immunofluorescence combined with confocal microscopy, showed a spatial sequence of events tightly associated with chromatin condensation. In order to gain an insight into mechanisms controlling histone hyperacetylation during spermiogenesis, we treated spermatogenic cells with a histone deacetylase inhibitor, trichostatin A (TSA), which showed a spectacular increase of histone acetylation in round spermatids. This observation suggests that deacetylases are responsible for maintaining a deacetylated state of histones in these cells. TSA treatment could not induce histone acetylation in condensing spermatids, suggesting that acetylated core histones are replaced by transition proteins without being previously deacetylated. Moreover, our data showed a dramatic decrease in histone deacetylases in condensing spermatids. Therefore, the regulation of histone deacetylase activity/concentration appears to play a major role in controling histone hyperacetylation and probably histone replacement during spermiogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / analysis
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / analysis
  • Spermatogenesis / physiology*
  • Testis / cytology
  • Testis / metabolism


  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Histones
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen
  • spermatid transition proteins
  • Histone Deacetylases