Histone gene expression during sea urchin spermatogenesis: An in situ hybridization study

Dominic Poccia, Toby Lieber, Geoffrey Childs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The expression of testis‐specific and adult somatic histone genes in sea urchin testis was investigated by in situ hybridization. The testis‐specific histone genes (Sp H2B‐1 of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and Sp H2B‐2 of Lytechinus pictus) were expressed exclusively in a subset of male germ line cells. These cells are morphologically identical to replicating cells pulse‐labeled with 3H‐thymidine. Genes coding for histones expressed in adult somatic and late embryo cells (H2A‐β for S. purpuratus and H3‐1 for L. Pictus) were expressed in the same germ line cells, as well as in the supportive cells (nutritive phagocytes) of the gonad. All histone mRNAs detected in the male germ lineage declined precipitously by the early spermatid stage, before cytoplasmic reduction. The data suggest that both testis‐specific and adult somatic histone genes are expressed in proliferating male germ line cells. Testis‐specific gene expression is restricted to spermatogonia and premeiotic spermatid, but somatic histone expression is not. The decline of histone mRNA in nondividing spermatids is not merely a consequence of cytoplasmic shedding, but probably reflects mRNA turnover.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-229
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Reproduction and Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989


  • Male germ line cells
  • Nutritive phagocytes
  • Testis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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