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L'organisation post-méiotique de l'épigénome mâle

Abstract : Spermatogenesis, the process of producing male gametes, represents a relevant physiological model for the study of chromatin dynamics. Indeed, a drastic reorganization of the genome is observed at the end of spermatogenesis, during post-meiotic stages of the development of the male germ cells. These reorganizations are intended both to compact the genome to protect it before and during fertilization and to establish a specific male epigenome necessary for early embryonic development. In spermatozoa, during these post-meiotic stages, chromatin is completely reorganized so that the protamines replace the histones. This reorganization is initiated by a wave of genome-wide histone acetylation, followed by massive replacement of histones by small basic proteins, transition proteins and protamines. The molecular mechanisms responsible for this reorganization of the genome remain very poorly known today. My thesis aims to explore these mechanisms by using gene inactivation in mouse of epigenetic actors specifically expressed in post-meiotic germ cells : the nuclear factor Nut (Nuclear protein in Testis) and the histone H2A variant, H2A.L.2. We have demonstrated that the Nut protein interacts and stimulates the p300 acetyltransferase activity and induces the hyperacetylation of histone H4 precisely on the lysine residues at 5 and 8 positions. This acetylation is necessary for the interaction with the first bromodomain of Brdt initiating the process of histone replacement by protamines. Thus, the Nut factor is the main element of the histone acetylation wave. We have also deciphered the crucial role of H2A.L.2 in the “opening ” of nucleosomal structures in post-meiotic germ cells thus allowing its invasion by the transition proteins. These transition proteins will in turn generate a platform for the recruitment and maturation of protamines and induce the formation of transient structures before the final compaction of the mature sperm genome. These studies allowed us to establish for the first time a coherent molecular model for understanding the post-meiotic epigenetic programming of the male genome and its impact on male fertility.
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Sophie Barral. L'organisation post-méiotique de l'épigénome mâle. Biochimie, Biologie Moléculaire. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018GREAV058⟩. ⟨tel-02103249⟩

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