Mouse and cell-based studies have shown that macroH2A histone variants predominantly associate with heterochromatin. Functional studies found that macroH2As are involved in gene repression, inhibiting the acquisition of pluripotency and preserving cell differentiation. However, only a few studies have analysed the role of macroH2A during early embryo development. We report the development of transgenic zebrafish lines expressing macroH2A isoforms (mH2A1 and mH2A2) fusion proteins (with GFP) under identified endogenous promoters. We found that mH2A1 and mH2A2 have different spatial and temporal expression patterns during embryonic development. mH2A1 is expressed mostly in the extraembryonic Yolk Syncytial Layer (YSL) starting before shield stage and decreasing once morphogenesis is completed. mH2A2 expression lags behind mH2A1, becoming evident at 24 hpf, within the whole body of the embryo proper. Our ChIP-seq analysis showed that mH2A1 and mH2A2 bind to different DNA regions, changing dramatically after gastrulation. We further analysed RNA-seq data and showed that there is not a general/unspecific repressing function of mH2A1 or mH2A2 associated with heterochromatin but a fine regulation depending on cell types and stage of development. mH2A1 downregulates DNA expression in specific cells and embryo stages and its effect is independent of heterochromatin formation but it is correlated with nucleus quiescence instead. Whereas mH2A2 DNA association correlates with upregulation of differentially expressed genes between 75% epiboly and 24 hpf stages. Our data provide information for underlying molecules that participate in crucial early developmental events, and open new venues to explore mH2A related mechanisms that involve cell proliferation, differentiation, migration and metabolism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas