Mouse sperm were labeled in vivo with [3H]arginine. The sperm were then followed autoradiographically from the time of label incorporation until after fertilization. The label was completely lost from the sperm head after fertilization, during the oocyte's second meiotic division. That the [3H]arginine was incorporated into a sperm-specific basic protein was demonstrated by fractionating acid extracts of epididymal and ejaculated sperm with polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. All the histone fractions were resolved in the epididymal extracts, but in addition a band was present that migrated faster than histone F2al and slower than the salmon protamine used as a marker. This new fraction (proposed name: musculine) was also present in ejaculated sperm; it was shown to be the only fraction that was labeled. Musculine therefore represents the end product of a histone transition in mice. It is, however, according to our electrophoretic characterization, not identical to the classical fish protamines. Rather, musculine resembles bovine sperm nuclear protein. Since the loss of this fraction from the sperm head was coincident with the rearrangement of the male genome, before its resumption of transcription, it is suggested that musculine is involved in the control of chromatin that accompanies spermiogenesis and fertilization.

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