A new link between transcriptional initiation and pre-mRNA splicing: The RNA binding histone variant H2A.B

Tatiana A. Soboleva, Brian J. Parker, Maxim Nekrasov, Gene Hart-Smith, Ying Jin Tay, Wei Quan Tng, Marc Wilkins, Daniel Ryan, David J. Tremethick*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    The replacement of histone H2A with its variant forms is critical for regulating all aspects of genome organisation and function. The histone variant H2A.B appeared late in evolution and is most highly expressed in the testis followed by the brain in mammals. This raises the question of what new function(s) H2A.B might impart to chromatin in these important tissues. We have immunopurified the mouse orthologue of H2A.B, H2A.B.3, from testis chromatin and found this variant to be associated with RNA processing factors and RNA Polymerase (Pol) II. Most interestingly, many of these interactions with H2A.B.3 (Sf3b155, Spt6, DDX39A and RNA Pol II) were inhibited by the presence of endogenous RNA. This histone variant can bind to RNA directly in vitro and in vivo, and associates with mRNA at intron—exon boundaries. This suggests that the ability of H2A.B to bind to RNA negatively regulates its capacity to bind to these factors (Sf3b155, Spt6, DDX39A and RNA Pol II). Unexpectedly, H2A.B.3 forms highly decompacted nuclear subdomains of active chromatin that co-localizes with splicing speckles in male germ cells. H2A.B.3 ChIP-Seq experiments revealed a unique chromatin organization at active genes being not only enriched at the transcription start site (TSS), but also at the beginning of the gene body (but being excluded from the +1 nucleosome) compared to the end of the gene. We also uncover a general histone variant replacement process whereby H2A.B.3 replaces H2A.Z at intron-exon boundaries in the testis and the brain, which positively correlates with expression and exon inclusion. Taken together, we propose that a special mechanism of splicing may occur in the testis and brain whereby H2A.B.3 recruits RNA processing factors from splicing speckles to active genes following its replacement of H2A.Z.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere1006633
    JournalPLoS Genetics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


    Dive into the research topics of 'A new link between transcriptional initiation and pre-mRNA splicing: The RNA binding histone variant H2A.B'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this