More than a century ago, a densely stained area inside the nucleus of male meiotic cells was described. It was later shown to harbor the sex chromosomes which undergo transcriptional inactivation in conjunction with heterochromatinisation and synapsis to form the XY body. Formation of the XY body is conserved throughout the mammalian phylogenetic tree and is thought to be essential for successful spermatogenesis. However, its biological role as well as the molecular mechanisms underlying XY body formation are still far from being understood. A lot of effort has already been undertaken to characterize components of the XY body and to investigate their functional implications in sex chromatin heterochromatinisation and meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI). This review gives an overview of those components and their possible implications in XY body formation and function.
Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel