Deficiency of X and Y chromosomal pairing at meiotic prophase in spermatocytes of sterile interspecific hybrids between laboratory mice (Mus domesticus) and Mus spretus

Chromosoma. 1992 Jun;101(8):483-92. doi: 10.1007/BF00352471.


The normal association between the X and Y chromosomes at metaphase I of meiosis, as seen in air-dried light microscope preparations of mouse spermatocytes, is frequently lacking in the spermatocytes of the sterile interspecific hybrid between the laboratory mouse strains C57BL/6 and Mus spretus. The purpose of this work is to determine whether the separate X and Y chromosomes in the hybrid are asynaptic, caused by failure to pair, or desynaptic, caused by precocious dissociation. Unpaired X-Y chromosomes were observed in air-dried preparations at diakinesis, just prior to metaphase I. Furthermore, immunocytology and electron microscopy studies of surface-spread pachytene spermatocytes indicate that the X and Y chromosomes frequently fail to initiate synapsis as judged by the failure to form a synaptonemal complex between the pairing regions of the X and Y chromosomes. Several additional chromosomal abnormalities were observed in the hybrid. These include fold-backs of the unpaired X or Y cores, associations between the autosome and sex chromosome cores, and autosomal univalents. The occurrence of abnormal autosomal and XY-autosomal associations was also correlated with cell degeneration during meiotic prophase. The primary breakdown in hybrid spermatogenesis occurs at metaphase I (MI), with the appearance of degenerated cells at late MI. In those cells, the X and Y are decondensed rather than condensed as they are in normal mouse MI spermatocytes. These results, in combination with the previous genetic analysis of spermatogenesis in hybrids and backcrosses with fertile female hybrids, suggest that the spermatogenic breakdown in the interspecific hybrid is primarily correlated with the failure of XY pairing at meiotic prophase, asynapsis, followed by the degeneration of spermatocytes at metaphase I. Secondarily, the failure of XY pairing can be accompanied by failure of autosomal pairing, which appears to involve an abnormal sex vesicle and degeneration at pachytene or diplotene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Infertility / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muridae
  • Prophase*
  • Spermatocytes / cytology*
  • Spermatocytes / ultrastructure
  • X Chromosome* / ultrastructure
  • Y Chromosome* / ultrastructure