Cell type-specific role of CBX2 and its disordered region in spermatogenesis

Jongmin J. Kim, Emma R. Steinson, Mei Sheng Lau, Dirk G. de Rooij, David C. Page, Robert E. Kingston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Polycomb group (PcG) proteins maintain the repressed state of lineage-inappropriate genes and are therefore essential for embryonic development and adult tissue homeostasis. One critical function of PcG complexes is modulating chromatin structure. Canonical Polycomb repressive complex 1 (cPRC1), particularly its component CBX2, can compact chromatin and phase-separate in vitro. These activities are hypothesized to be critical for forming a repressed physical environment in cells. While much has been learned by studying these PcG activities in cell culture models, it is largely unexplored how cPRC1 regulates adult stemcells and their subsequent differentiation in living animals. Here, we show in vivo evidence of a critical nonenzymatic repressive function of cPRC1 component CBX2 in the male germline. CBX2 is up-regulated as spermatogonial stem cells differentiate and is required to repress genes that were active in stem cells. CBX2 forms condensates (similar to previously described Polycomb bodies) that colocalize with target genes bound by CBX2 in differentiating spermatogonia. Single-cell analyses of mosaic Cbx2 mutant testes show that CBX2 is specifically required to produce differentiating A1 spermatogonia. Furthermore, the region of CBX2 responsible for compaction and phase separation is needed for the long-term maintenance of male germ cells in the animal. These results emphasize that the regulation of chromatin structure by CBX2 at a specific stage of spermatogenesis is critical, which distinguishes this from a mechanism that is reliant on histone modification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)640-660
Number of pages21
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number13-14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • Polycomb body
  • Polycomb repressive complex 1
  • adult stem cell
  • chromatin compaction
  • phase separation
  • spermatogonia


Dive into the research topics of 'Cell type-specific role of CBX2 and its disordered region in spermatogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this