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HP1γ function is required for male germ cell survival and spermatogenesis

Author(s): Brown Jeremy P | Bullwinkel Jörn | Baron-Lühr Bettina | Billur Mustafa | Schneider Philipp | Winking Heinz | Singh Prim B

Journal: Epigenetics & Chromatin
ISSN 1756-8935

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 9;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Abstract Background HP1 proteins are conserved components of eukaryotic constitutive heterochromatin. In mammals, there are three genes that encode HP1-like proteins, termed HP1α, HP1β and HP1γ, which have a high degree of homology This paper describes for the first time, to our knowledge, the physiological function of HP1γ using a gene-targeted mouse. Results While targeting the Cbx3 gene (encoding the HP1γ protein) with a conditional targeting vector, we generated a hypomorphic allele (Cbx3hypo), which resulted in much reduced (barely detectable) levels of HP1γ protein. Homozygotes for the hypomorphic allele (Cbx3hypo/hypo) are rare, with only 1% of Cbx3hypo/hypo animals reaching adulthood. Adult males exhibit a severe hypogonadism that is associated with a loss of germ cells, with some seminiferous tubules retaining only the supporting Sertoli cells (Sertoli cell-only phenotype). The percentage of seminiferous tubules that are positive for L1 ORF1 protein (ORF1p) in Cbx3hypo/hypo testes is greater than that for wild-type testes, indicating that L1 retrotransposon silencing is reversed, leading to ectopic expression of ORF1p in Cbx3hypo/hypo germ cells. Conclusions The Cbx3 gene product (the HP1γ protein) has a non-redundant function during spermatogenesis that cannot be compensated for by the other two HP1 isotypes. The Cbx3hypo/hypo spermatogenesis defect is similar to that found in Miwi2 and Dnmt3L mutants. The Cbx3 gene-targeted mice generated in this study provide an appropriate model for the study of HP1γ in transposon silencing and parental imprinting.
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