Nuclear Condensation during Mouse Erythropoiesis Requires Caspase-3-Mediated Nuclear Opening

Baobing Zhao, Yang Mei, Matthew J. Schipma, Eric Wayne Roth, Reiner Bleher, Joshua Z. Rappoport, Amittha Wickrema, Jing Yang, Peng Ji*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Mammalian erythropoiesis involves chromatin condensation that is initiated in the early stage of terminal differentiation. The mechanisms of chromatin condensation during erythropoiesis are unclear. Here, we show that the mouse erythroblast forms large, transient, and recurrent nuclear openings that coincide with the condensation process. The opening lacks nuclear lamina, nuclear pore complexes, and nuclear membrane, but it is distinct from nuclear envelope changes that occur during apoptosis and mitosis. A fraction of the major histones are released from the nuclear opening and degraded in the cytoplasm. We demonstrate that caspase-3 is required for the nuclear opening formation throughout terminal erythropoiesis. Loss of caspase-3 or ectopic expression of a caspase-3 non-cleavable lamin B mutant blocks nuclear opening formation, histone release, chromatin condensation, and terminal erythroid differentiation. We conclude that caspase-3-mediated nuclear opening formation accompanied by histone release from the opening is a critical step toward chromatin condensation during erythropoiesis in mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-510
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Cell
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 7 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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