The Chromatoid Body: A Specialized RNA Granule of Male Germ Cells
RNA processing and miRNA pathways have been shown to exert a central control on a wide variety of cellular functions. The epigenetic program of male germ cells is highly specialized, including RNA processing pathways, which play an important role in the male germ cell lineage. Male germ cells differentiate through a remarkable process of cellular restructuring. One highly specialized structure is the chromatoid body (CB), a male reproductive cell-specific organelle that appears in spermatocytes and spermatids. It is a finely filamentous, lobulated perinuclear granule located in the cytoplasm of male germ cells. The molecular composition and function of the chromatoid body have remained elusive for a longtime. Accumulating evidence indicates that the CB is involved in RNA storing and metabolism, being related to the RNA processing body (P-body) of somatic cells. We propose that the CB operates as an intracellular nerve-center of the microRNA pathway. The role of the chromatoid body underscores the importance of posttranscriptional gene regulation and of the microRNA pathway in the control of postmeiotic male germ cell differentiation.
KeywordsChromatoid body Epigenetics micro RNA Post-transcriptional regulation Spermatogenesis VASA
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