Non-random chromosome positioning in mammalian sperm nuclei, with migration of the sex chromosomes during late spermatogenesis

Helen A Foster, Lalantha R Abeydeera, Darren K Griffin, Joanna M Bridger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Chromosomes are highly organized and compartmentalized in cell nuclei. The analysis of their position is a powerful way to monitor genome organization in different cell types and states. Evidence suggests that the organization of the genome could be functionally important for influencing different cellular and developmental processes, particularly at early stages of development (i.e. fertilization and the consequent entry of the sperm nucleus into the egg). The position of chromosomes in the sperm nucleus might be crucial, because their location could determine the time at which particular chromatin domains are decondensed and remodelled, allowing some epigenetic level of control or influence over subsequent paternal gene expression in the embryo. Here, we analyse genome organization by chromosome position in mammalian sperm nuclei from three breeds of pig, as a model species. We have mapped the preferential position of all chromosomes (bar one) in sperm nuclei in two dimensions and have established that the sex chromosomes are the most internally localized chromosomes in mature sperm. The distribution of two autosomes and chromosomes X and Y in sperm heads was compared in primary and secondary spermatocytes and spermatids in porcine testes. The sex chromosomes were found at the nuclear edge in primary spermatocytes, which correlates with the known position of the XY body and their position in somatic cells, whereas, in spermatids, the sex chromosomes were much more centrally located, mirroring the position of these chromosomes in ejaculated spermatozoa. This study reveals the temporal repositioning of chromosome territories in spermatogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1811-20
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue numberPt 9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2005


  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus/metabolism
  • Chromatin/metabolism
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes/ultrastructure
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Male
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Sex Chromosomes/ultrastructure
  • Species Specificity
  • Spermatids/metabolism
  • Spermatocytes/metabolism
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Spermatozoa/metabolism
  • Swine
  • X Chromosome
  • Y Chromosome


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