Stockpiling Histones

Histones stored on lipid droplets in fly embryos provide a backup supply when newly synthesized ones are lacking.

kerry grens
Kerry Grens

Kerry served as The Scientist’s news director until 2021. Before joining The Scientist in 2013, she was a stringer for Reuters Health, the senior health and science reporter at...

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Feb 1, 2013


HISTONE STORES: Wild-type Drosophila embryos contain an abundance of H2B histones (top layer, left), while engineered embryos (right) do not.© COURTESY OF ZHIHUAN LI

The paper
Z. Li et al., “Lipid droplets control the maternal histone supply of Drosophila embryos,” Curr Biol, 22: 2104-13, 2012.

The finding
Excess free-floating histones are toxic to cells. Yet researchers have observed massive stores of maternally supplied histones, bound to lipid droplets, in Drosophila embryonic cells. To understand the function of these fat-associated histones, Michael Welte of the University of Rochester and his colleagues disrupted the synthesis of new histones in fly embryos and found support for the idea that lipid droplets help the embryo safely store the excess pre-made histones for times of need.

The partner
By purifying the droplets and isolating the associated proteins, Welte’s group identified a new protein, Jabba, which anchors histones to...