SLY regulates genes involved in chromatin remodeling and interacts with TBL1XR1 during sperm differentiation

Cell Death Differ. 2017 Jun;24(6):1029-1044. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2017.32. Epub 2017 May 5.


Sperm differentiation requires unique transcriptional regulation and chromatin remodeling after meiosis to ensure proper compaction and protection of the paternal genome. Abnormal sperm chromatin remodeling can induce sperm DNA damage, embryo lethality and male infertility, yet, little is known about the factors which regulate this process. Deficiency in Sly, a mouse Y chromosome-encoded gene expressed only in postmeiotic male germ cells, has been shown to result in the deregulation of hundreds of sex chromosome-encoded genes associated with multiple sperm differentiation defects and subsequent male infertility. The underlying mechanism remained, to date, unknown. Here, we show that SLY binds to the promoter of sex chromosome-encoded and autosomal genes highly expressed postmeiotically and involved in chromatin regulation. Specifically, we demonstrate that Sly knockdown directly induces the deregulation of sex chromosome-encoded H2A variants and of the H3K79 methyltransferase DOT1L. The modifications prompted by loss of Sly alter the postmeiotic chromatin structure and ultimately result in abnormal sperm chromatin remodeling with negative consequences on the sperm genome integrity. Altogether our results show that SLY is a regulator of sperm chromatin remodeling. Finally we identified that SMRT/N-CoR repressor complex is involved in gene regulation during sperm differentiation since members of this complex, in particular TBL1XR1, interact with SLY in postmeiotic male germ cells.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism*
  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport
  • Animals
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly*
  • Chromosomes, Mammalian / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Mammalian / metabolism
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sex Chromosomes / genetics
  • Sex Chromosomes / metabolism*
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Spermatozoa / physiology


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Repressor Proteins
  • SLY1 protein, mouse
  • Tbl1xr1 protein, mouse
  • DNA