Chromatin folding in human spermatozoa. I. Dynamics of chromatin remodelling in differentiating human spermatids
Changes in chromatin structure at different stages of differentiation of human spermatids were studied. It was shown that, in nuclei of early spermatids, chromatin is loosely packed and its structural element is an 8-nm fiber. This “elementary” fiber is predominant at the initial stages of differentiation; in the course of maturation, it is replaced by globular elements approximately 60 nm in diameter. In intermediate spermatids, these globules start to condense into fibrillar aggregates and reduce their diameter to 30–40 nm. At all stages of spermatid maturation, except the final stages, these globules are convergence centers for elementary fibers. This remodelling process is vectored and directed from the apical (acrosomal) to the basal pole of the nucleus. In mature spermatids, the elementary 8-nm fibers are almost absent and the major components are 40-nm fibrillar aggregates. The nuclei of mature spermatids are structurally identical with the nuclei of spermatozoa with the so-called “immature chromatin,” which are commonly found in a low proportion in sperm samples from healthy donors and may prevail over the normal cells in spermiogenetic disorders. The cause of this differentiation blockade remains unknown. Possibly, the formation of intermolecular bonds between protamines, which are required for the final stages of chromatin condensation, is blocked in a part of spermatids. The results of this study are discussed in comparison with the known models of nucleoprotamine chromatin organization in human spermatozoa.
Keywordschromatin DNA spermiogenesis spermatid histones protamines supramolecular organization
phosphate buffered saline (salt solution with a phosphate buffer system according to Dulbecco)
terminal dUTP nick end labeling (labeling the breaks by terminal dUTP binding)
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