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The male pachynema-specific protein MAPS drives phase separation in vitro and regulates sex body formation and chromatin behaviors in vivo
Zexiong Lin, Dongliang Li, Jiahuan Zheng, Louise T. Chow, Hengbin Wang, Kui Liu
MAPS, phase separation, meiotic prophase I, sex body formation, male infertility
Dynamic chromosome remodeling and nuclear compartmentalization take place during mammalian meiotic prophase I. We report here that the crucial roles of male pachynema-specific protein (MAPS) in pachynema progression might be mediated by its liquid-liquid phase separation in vitro and in cellulo. MAPS forms distinguishable liquid phases, and deletion or mutations of its N-terminal amino acids (aa) 2−9 disrupt its secondary structure and charge properties, impeding phase separation. Maps−/− pachytene spermatocytes exhibit defects in nucleus compartmentalization, including defects in forming sex bodies, altered nucleosome composition, and disordered chromatin accessibility. MapsΔ2–9/Δ2–9 male mice expressing MAPS protein lacking aa 2–9 phenocopy Maps−/− mice. Moreover, a frameshift mutation in C3orf62, the human counterpart of Maps, is correlated with nonobstructive azoospermia in a patient exhibiting pachynema arrest in spermatocyte development. Hence, the phase separation property of MAPS seems essential for pachynema progression in mouse and human spermatocytes.