During spermatogenesis, DNA in the sperm head becomes more tightly condensed as histones are replaced by protamine-like molecules. In this article, the question is asked whether, during the production of this highly differentiated cell, controls are imposed on the spatial organization of DNA within the nucleus. Heads from bull spermatozoa were isolated by a technique that removed the plasma membrane and acrosomal contents, and the DNA was induced to decondense by addition of 2-mercaptoethanol and trypsin. Under these conditions, decondensation was induced in all regions of the head. To determine whether there was any spatial restraint on packaging of the genome, three DNA probes were used (pl.709-512, containing an interspersed repetitive sequence; pCSIH, containing a copy of the major bovine centromeric statellite sequence; p18 s and p28 s, containing the 18 S and 28 S ribosomal genes) that might be expected to hybridize to different regions. Results showed that the interspersed repetitive probe hybridized to all regions of the head, whereas the ribosomal and centromeric probes hybridized to sequences that were largely confined to the equatorial region of the sperm. We conclude that organization of the genome in the bovine sperm nucleus is not random.

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