Sex-specific telomere redistribution and synapsis initiation in cattle oogenesis

Dev Biol. 2003 Mar 15;255(2):206-15. doi: 10.1016/s0012-1606(02)00093-3.


The process of homolog pairing is well characterised in meiosis of male mammals, but much less information is available from female meiosis. We have therefore studied telomere dynamics by FISH and synapsis formation by immunostaining of synaptonemal complex proteins (SCP3, SCP1) on ovarian sections from 15 bovine fetuses, which covered the entire female prophase I. Telomeres displayed a dispersed intranuclear distribution in oogonia and relocated to the nuclear periphery during the preleptotene stage. Tight telomere clustering (bouquet formation) coincided with synapsis initiation at the leptotene/zygotene transition. Clustering of telomeres persisted during zygotene and even into the pachytene stage in a subset of nuclei, while it was absent in diplotene/dictyotene stage nuclei. Thus, the bouquet stage in the bovine female lasts significantly longer than in the male. Further, we observed that synapsis in the female initiated both terminally and interstitially in earliest zygotene stage oocytes, which contrasts with the predominantly terminal synapsis initiation in early zygotene spermatocytes of the bovine male. Altogether, our data disclose a sex-specific difference in telomere dynamics and synapsis initiation patterns in male and female bovine germ cells that may be related to the sex-specific differences in recombination rates observed in this and other mammalian species.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Chromosome Pairing / genetics
  • Chromosome Pairing / physiology
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Male
  • Meiosis / genetics
  • Meiosis / physiology
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Oogenesis / genetics*
  • Oogenesis / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics
  • Spermatogenesis / physiology
  • Synaptonemal Complex / genetics
  • Synaptonemal Complex / metabolism
  • Telomere / genetics*
  • Telomere / metabolism


  • Nuclear Proteins