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Protamines are small, highly-specialized, arginine-rich, and intrinsically-disordered chromosomal proteins that replace histones during spermiogenesis in many organisms. Previous evidence supports the notion that, in the animal kingdom, these proteins have evolved from a primitive replication-independent histone H1 involved in terminal cell differentiation. Nevertheless, a direct connection between the two families of chromatin proteins is missing. Here, we primarily used electron transfer dissociation MS-based analyses, revealing that the protamines in the sperm of the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha result from post-translational cleavage of three precursor H1 histones. Moreover, we show that the mature protamines are further post-translationally modified by di-aminopropanelation, and previous studies have reported that they condense spermatid chromatin through a process consisting of liquid-phase assembly likely involving spinodal decomposition. Taken together, our results reveal that the interesting evolutionary ancestry of protamines begins with histone H1 in both the animal and plant kingdoms. © 2019 D'Ippolito et al.


Robert Anthony D'Ippolito, Naoki Minamino, Ciro Rivera-Casas, Manjinder S Cheema, Dina L Bai, Harold E Kasinsky, Jeffrey Shabanowitz, Jose M Eirin-Lopez, Takashi Ueda, Donald F Hunt, Juan Ausió. Protamines from liverwort are produced by post-translational cleavage and C-terminal di-aminopropanelation of several male germ-specific H1 histones. The Journal of biological chemistry. 2019 Nov 01;294(44):16364-16373

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PMID: 31527083

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