We identified HMGB4, a novel member of the HMGB family lacking the acidic tail typically found in this family. HMGB4 is strongly and preferentially expressed in the adult mouse testis and weakly in the brain, but not in many other tissues. HMGB4 associates with chromatin, and in transfection assays, in contrast to HMGB1, it acts as a potent transcriptional repressor. During spermatogenesis, HMGB4 is present in the euchromatin of late pachytene spermatocytes and haploid round spermatids, whereas stronger expression is observed during the elongation phase, where it localizes to the basal pole of the nucleus in a manner mutually exclusive with H1FNT (H1T2) localized at the apical pole. HMGB4 basal localization is lost in H1FNT-mutant spermatids, showing that H1FNT provides a positional cue for organizing chromatin domains within the nucleus. These results show that HMGB4 and H1FNT specify distinct chromatin domains at the apical and basal poles of the elongating spermatid nucleus.
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Vol. 80 • No. 2