Core histone N-termini play an essential role in mitotic chromosome condensation

Anne Elisabeth De La Barre, Véronique Gerson, Stéphanie Gout, Martina Creaven, C. Dave Allis, Stefan Dimitrov

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93 Citations (Scopus)


We have studied the role of core histone tails in the assembly of mitotic chromosomes using Xenopus egg extracts. Incubation of sperm nuclei in the extracts led to the formation of mitotic chromosomes, a process we found to be correlated with phosphorylation of the N-terminal tail of histone H3 at Ser10. When the extracts were supplemented with H1-depleted oligosomes, they were not able to assemble chromosomes. Selective elimination of oligosome histone tails by trypsin digestion resulted in a dramatic decrease in their ability to inhibit chromosome condensation. The chromosome assembly was also inhibited by each of the histone tails with differing efficiency. In addition, we found that nucleosomes were recruiting through the flexible histone tails some chromosome assembly factors, different from topoisomerase II and 13S condensin. These findings demonstrate that histone tails play an essential role in chromosome assembly. We also present evidence that the nucleosomes, through physical association, were able to deplete the extracts from the kinase phosphorylating histone H3 at Ser10, suggesting that this kinase could be important for chromosome condensation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-391
Number of pages13
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2000
Externally publishedYes



  • Assembly
  • Chromosome
  • Condensation
  • H3 phosphorylation
  • Histone tails

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Cite this

De La Barre, A. E., Gerson, V., Gout, S., Creaven, M., Allis, C. D., & Dimitrov, S. (2000). Core histone N-termini play an essential role in mitotic chromosome condensation. EMBO Journal, 19(3), 379-391.