Whole-genome sequencing of H3K4me3 and DNA methylation in human sperm reveals regions of overlap linked to fertility and development

Romain Lambrot, Donovan Chan, Xiaojian Shao, Mahmoud Aarabbi, Toni Kwan, Guillaume Bourque, Sergey Moskovtsev, Clifford Librach, Jacquetta Trasler, Vanessa Dumeaux", Sarah Kimmins". ("co-corresponding authors), Cell Reports (2021)
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The paternal environment has been linked to infertility and negative outcomes. Such effects may be transmitted via sperm through histone modifications. To date, in-depth profiling of the sperm chromatin in men has been limited. Here, we use deep sequencing to characterize the sperm profiles of histone H3 lysine 4 tri-methylation (H3K4me3) and DNA methylation in a representative reference population of 37 men. Our analysis reveals that H3K4me3 is localized throughout the genome and at genes for fertility and development. Remarkably, enrichment is also found at regions that escape epigenetic reprogramming in primordial germ cells, embryonic enhancers, and short-interspersed nuclear elements (SINEs). There is significant overlap in H3K4me3 and DNA methylation throughout the genome, suggesting a potential interplay between these marks previously reported to be mutually exclusive in sperm. Comparisons made between H3K4me3 marked regions in sperm and the embryonic transcriptome suggest an influence of paternal chromatin on embryonic gene expression.