Distinct H3K9me3 and DNA methylation modifications during mouse spermatogenesis

J Biol Chem. 2019 Dec 6;294(49):18714-18725. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.010496. Epub 2019 Oct 29.


DNA methylation and histone modifications critically regulate the expression of many genes and repeat regions during spermatogenesis. However, the molecular details of these processes in male germ cells remain to be addressed. Here, using isolated murine sperm cells, ultra-low-input native ChIP-Seq (ULI-NChIP-Seq), and whole genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS), we investigated genome-wide DNA methylation patterns and histone 3 Lys-9 trimethylation (H3K9me3) modifications during mouse spermatogenesis. We found that DNA methylation and H3K9me3 have distinct sequence preferences and dynamics in promoters and repeat elements during spermatogenesis. H3K9me3 modifications in histones at gene promoters were highly enriched in round spermatids. H3K9me3 modification on long terminal repeats (LTRs) and long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs) was involved in silencing active transcription from these regions in conjunction with reestablishment of DNA methylation. Furthermore, H3K9me3 remodeling on the X chromosome was involved in meiotic sex chromosome inactivation and in partial transcriptional reactivation of sex chromosomes in spermatids. Our findings also revealed the DNA methylation patterns and H3K9me3 modification profiles of paternal and maternal germline imprinting control regions (gICRs) during spermatogenesis. Taken together, our results provide a genome-wide map of H3K9me3 modifications during mouse spermatogenesis that may be helpful for understanding male reproductive disorders.

Keywords: DNA methylation; H3K9me3; epigenetic modifications; germline imprinting control region (gICR); histone methylation; long terminal repeats (LTRs); meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI); repeat elements; reproduction; reprogramming; spermatogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Methylation / genetics
  • DNA Methylation / physiology*
  • Epigenomics
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics
  • Spermatogenesis / physiology*
  • Terminal Repeat Sequences / genetics
  • Terminal Repeat Sequences / physiology


  • Histones