Despite insights on the cellular level, the molecular details of chromatin reorganization in sperm development, which involves replacement of histone proteins by specialized factors to allow ultra most condensation of the genome, are not well understood. Protamines are dispensable for DNA condensation during Drosophila post-meiotic spermatogenesis. Therefore, we analyzed the interaction of Mst77F, another very basic testis-specific protein with chromatin and DNA as well as studied the molecular consequences of such binding. We show that Mst77F on its own causes severe chromatin and DNA aggregation. An intrinsically unstructured domain in the C-terminus of Mst77F binds DNA via electrostatic interaction. This binding results in structural reorganization of the domain, which induces interaction with an N-terminal region of the protein. Via putative cooperative effects Mst77F is induced to multimerize in this state causing DNA aggregation. In agreement, overexpression of Mst77F results in chromatin aggregation in fly sperm. Based on these findings we postulate that Mst77F is crucial for sperm development by giving rise to a unique condensed chromatin structure.
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