, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 163-173

Non-random positioning of chromosomes in human sperm nuclei

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In human spermatozoa, the arrangement of chromosomes is non-random. Characteristic features are association of centromeres in the interior chromocenter and peripheral location of telomeres. In this paper, we have investigated the highest level of order in DNA packing in sperm – absolute and relative intranuclear chromosome positioning. Asymmetrical nuclear shape, existence of a defined spatial marker, and the haploid complement of chromosomes facilitated an experimental approach using in situ hybridization. Our results showed the tendency for non-random intranuclear location of individual chromosome territories. Moreover, centromeres demonstrated specific intranuclear position, and were located within a limited area of nuclear volume. Additionally, the relative positions of centromeres were non-random; some were found in close proximity, while other pairs showed significantly greater intercentromere distances. Therefore, a unique and specific adherence may exist between chromosomes in sperm. The observed chromosome order is discussed in relation to sperm nuclei decondensation, and reactivation during fertilization.

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