Histone methyltransferase SETDB1 suppresses gene expression and modulates heterochromatin formation through H3K9me2/3. Previous studies have revealed that SETDB1 catalyzes lysine 9 of histone H3 tri-methylation and plays essential roles in maintaining the survival of embryonic stem cells and spermatogonial stem cells in mice. However, the function of SETDB1 in porcine male germ cells remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to reveal the expression profile and function of SETDB1 in porcine germ cells. SETDB1 expression gradually increased during testis development. SETDB1 was strongly localized in gonocytes. Knockdown of SETDB1 gene expression led to gonocyte apoptosis and a decrease in H3K27me3, but no significant change in H3K9me3. These observations suggested that SETDB1 is a novel epigenetic regulator of porcine male germ cells, and contributes to the maintenance of gonocyte survival in pigs, probably due to the regulation of H3K27me3 rather than H3K9me3. These findings will provide a theoretical basis for the future study of epigenetic regulation of spermatogenesis.
Source: The journal of Reproductive Science