Chromosome Research

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 319-332

First online:

Histone deacetylase activity is necessary for chromosome condensation during meiotic maturation in Xenopus laevis

  • Laura Magnaghi-JaulinAffiliated withCRBM, UPR 1086 CNRS Email author 
  • , Christian JaulinAffiliated withInstitut de Génétique Humaine, UPR 1142 CNRSINSERM EMI 229 CRLC Val d'Aurelle-Paul Lamarque, Parc Euromédecine

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Chromosome condensation is thought to be an essential step for the faithful transmission of genetic information during cellular division or gamete formation. The folding of DNA into metaphase chromosomes and its partition during the cell cycle remains a fundamental cellular process that, at the molecular level, is poorly understood. Particularly, the role of histone deacetylase (HDAC) activities in establishing and maintaining meiotic metaphase chromosome condensation has been little documented. In order to better understand how metaphase chromosome condensation is achieved during meiosis, we explored, in vivo, the consequences of HDAC activities inhibition in a Xenopus oocyte model. Our results show that deacetylase activity plays a crucial role in chromosome condensation. This activity is necessary for correct chromosome condensation since the earlier stages of meiosis, but dispensable for meiosis progression, meiosis exit and mitosis entry. We show that HDAC activity correlates with chromosome condensation, being higher when chromosomes are fully condensed and lower during interphase, when chromosomes are decondensed. In addition, we show that, unlike histone H4, Xenopus maternal histone H3 is stored in the oocyte as a hypoacetylated form and is rapidly acetylated when the oocyte exits meiosis.

Key words

chromosome condensation histone deacetylase meiosis mitosis trichostatin A Xenopus