Spermatogenesis-specific association of SMCY and MSH5

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The status of chromatin during spermatogenesis is dynamically regulated by specific histone codes or stage-specific histone changes. The functional links between such epigenetic regulation and proteins regulating meiosis are largely unknown. In mammals, genes encoded on the Y chromosome are thought to possess male-specific biological functions. While genes located within the azoospermia factor region (AZF) are known to be involved in spermatogenesis, the physiological function of individual genes is not known. SMCY is a gene mapped to the AZF, and in this report, we analyzed the function of SMCY protein during spermatogenesis. Biochemical identification of the proteins with which it interacted showed that SMCY formed a distinct complex with MSH5, a critical meiosis-regulatory protein in the human testicular germ cell line, NEC8. As anticipated, histone H3K4 demethylase activity was detected. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed the co-localization of SMCY with MSH5 at a specific stage of meiotic prophase progression during murine spermatogenesis. Our results suggest that SMCY may have a male-specific function as a histone H3K4 demethylase by recruiting a meiosis-regulatory protein to condensed DNA.

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