Linker histones bind to nucleosomes and compact polynucleosomes into a higher-order chromatin configuration. Somatic and germ cell-specific linker histone subtypes have been identified and may have distinct functions. In this study, we reconstituted polynucleosomes containing human histones H1.2 and H1T, as representative somatic and germ cell-specific linker histones, respectively, and found that H1T forms less compacted chromatin, as compared to H1.2. An in vitro homologous pairing assay revealed that H1T weakly inhibited RAD51/RAD54-mediated homologous pairing in chromatin, although the somatic H1 subtypes, H1.0, H1.1, H1.2, H1.3, H1.4, and H1.5, substantially suppressed it. An in vivo recombination assay revealed that H1T overproduction minimally affected the recombination frequency, but significant suppression was observed when H1.2 was overproduced in human cells. These results suggested that the testis-specific linker histone, H1T, possesses a specific function to produce the chromatin architecture required for proper chromosome regulation, such as homologous recombination.
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