Somatic linker histone H1 is present throughout mouse embryogenesis and is not replaced by variant H1°

P. G. Adenot, E. Campion, E. Legouy, C. D. Allis, S. Dimitrov, J. P. Renard, E. M. Thompson

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A striking feature of early embryogenesis in a number of organisms is the use of embryonic linker histones or high mobility group proteins in place of somatic histone H1. The transition in chromatin composition towards somatic H1 appears to be correlated with a major increase in transcription at the activation of the zygotic genome. Previous studies have supported the idea that the mouse embryo essentially follows this pattern, with the significant difference that the substitute linker histone might be the differentiation variant H1°, rather than an embryonic variant. We show that histone H1°is not a major linker histone during early mouse development. Instead, somatic H1 was present throughout this period. Though present in mature oocytes, somatic H1 was not found on maternal metaphase II chromatin. Upon formation of pronuclear envelopes, somatic H1 was rapidly incorporated onto maternal and paternal chromatin, and the amount of somatic H1 steadily increased on embryonic chromatin through to the 8-cell stage. Microinjection of somatic H1 into oocytes, and nuclear transfer experiments, demonstrated that factors in the oocyte cytoplasm and the nuclear envelope, played central roles in regulating the loading of H1 onto chromatin. Exchange of H1 from transferred nuclei onto maternal chromatin required breakdown of the nuclear envelope and the extent of exchange was inversely correlated with the developmental advancement of the donor nucleus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2897-2907
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000



  • Genome activation
  • Histone H1°
  • Nuclear transfer
  • Oocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

Cite this

Adenot, P. G., Campion, E., Legouy, E., Allis, C. D., Dimitrov, S., Renard, J. P., & Thompson, E. M. (2000). Somatic linker histone H1 is present throughout mouse embryogenesis and is not replaced by variant H1°. Journal of Cell Science, 113(16), 2897-2907.