Chromatin remodelling and epigenetic features of germ cells


Germ cells have the unique capacity to start a new life upon fertilization. They are generated during a sex-specific differentiation programme called gametogenesis. Maturation of germ cells is characterized by an impressive degree of cellular restructuring and gene regulation that involves remarkable genomic reorganization. These events are finely tuned, but are also susceptible to the introduction of various types of error. Because stable genetic transmission to future generations is essential for life, understanding the control of these processes has far-reaching implications for human health and reproduction.

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Figure 1: Unique chromatin remodelling during the development of male germ cells.
Figure 2: Modifications of histone variants. N-terminal tails of generic histones and some testis-specific variants, with red residues indicating differences.
Figure 3: Germ cells contain various H1 variants.


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We were unfortunately unable to include all the relevant references owing to space constraints. We are grateful to C. D. Allis, D. Reinberg, R. Jaenisch, E. Borrelli, I. Davidson, N. Kotaja, U. Kolthur, G. Fienga, K. Hogeveen, C. Krausz, M. Parvinen, S. Henikoff, R. L. Brinster and all members of the Sassone-Corsi laboratory for critical reading of the manuscript, advice and stimulating discussions. S.K. is supported by fellowships from the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale and the Marie Curie Programme.

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Kimmins, S., Sassone-Corsi, P. Chromatin remodelling and epigenetic features of germ cells. Nature 434, 583–589 (2005).

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