Mutant meiotic chromosome core components in mice can cause apparent sexual dimorphic endpoints at prophase or X–Y defective male-specific sterility
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Genetic modifications causing germ cell death during meiotic prophase in the mouse frequently have sexually dimorphic phenotypes where oocytes reach more advanced stages than spermatocytes. To determine to what extent these dimorphisms are due to differences in male versus female meiotic prophase development, we compared meiotic chromosome events in the two sexes in both wild-type and mutant mice. We report the abundance and time course of appearance of structural and recombination-related proteins of fetal oocyte nuclei. Oocytes at successive days post coitus show rapid, synchronous meiotic prophase development compared with the continuous spermatocyte development in adult testis. Consequently, a genetic defect requiring 2–3 days from the onset of prophase to reach arrest registers pachytene as the developmental endpoint in oocytes. Pachytene spermatocytes, on the other hand, which normally accumulate during days 4–10 after the onset of prophase, will be rare, giving the appearance of an earlier endpoint than in oocytes. We conclude that these different logistics create apparent sexually dimorphic endpoints. For more pronounced sexual dimorphisms, we examined meiotic prophase of mice with genetic modifications of meiotic chromosome core components that cause male but not female sterility. The correlations between male sterility and alterations in the organization of the sex chromosome cores and X–Y chromatin may indicate that impaired signals from the XY domain (XY chromosome cores, chromatin, dense body and sex body) may interfere with the progression of the spermatocyte through prophase. Oocytes, in the absence of the X–Y pair, do not suffer such defects.
KeywordsMale Sterility Meiotic Prophase BRCA1 Protein Pachytene Stage Early Prophase
We thank Karen Rethoret for assistance with electron microscopy, Rolf Jessberger and K. Yokomori for antibodies to cohesins. The research was supported by a Discovery Grant from NSERC to P.B.M. and a studentship to E.M.
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