Characterization of BRD4 during mammalian postmeiotic sperm development

Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Apr;35(8):1433-48. doi: 10.1128/MCB.01328-14. Epub 2015 Feb 17.


During spermiogenesis, the postmeiotic phase of mammalian spermatogenesis, transcription is progressively repressed as nuclei of haploid spermatids are compacted through a dramatic chromatin reorganization involving hyperacetylation and replacement of most histones with protamines. Although BRDT functions in transcription and histone removal in spermatids, it is unknown whether other BET family proteins play a role. Immunofluorescence of spermatogenic cells revealed BRD4 in a ring around the nuclei of spermatids containing hyperacetylated histones. The ring lies directly adjacent to the acroplaxome, the cytoskeletal base of the acrosome, previously linked to chromatin reorganization. The BRD4 ring does not form in acrosomal mutant mice. Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing in spermatids revealed enrichment of BRD4 and acetylated histones at the promoters of active genes. BRD4 and BRDT show distinct and synergistic binding patterns, with a pronounced enrichment of BRD4 at spermatogenesis-specific genes. Direct association of BRD4 with acetylated H4 decreases in late spermatids as acetylated histones are removed from the condensing nucleus in a wave following the progressing acrosome. These data provide evidence of a prominent transcriptional role for BRD4 and suggest a possible removal mechanism for chromatin components from the genome via the progressing acrosome as transcription is repressed and chromatin is compacted during spermiogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Acrosome / metabolism
  • Acrosome / ultrastructure
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Histones / analysis
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Male
  • Meiosis
  • Mice
  • Nuclear Proteins / analysis
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Spermatids / cytology*
  • Spermatids / metabolism
  • Spermatogenesis*
  • Transcription Factors / analysis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Brd4 protein, mouse
  • Histones
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Transcription Factors