, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 503-512

Conservation of chromosome arrangement and position of the X in mammalian sperm suggests functional significance

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Abstract

We used chromosome painting to show directly that chromosomes occupy fixed positions in the nuclei of mammal but not chicken sperm. We found that the positions of homologous chromosomes are conserved in sperm of two marsupial species that diverged 50–60 million years ago. We also discovered that the X chromosome lies in the region that makes first contact with the egg in marsupial and monotreme mammals, as well as eutherians, and suggest that this position may be related to its propensity for inactivation, and its high rate of loss from ICSI embryos. We propose that nuclear architecture in sperm is important for spatial chromatin differentiation and normal development of the fertilized egg, and evolved along with mammal-specific regulatory systems such as X inactivation and genomic imprinting.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.