The chromatoid body of male germ cells: similarity with processing bodies and presence of Dicer and microRNA pathway components

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Feb 21;103(8):2647-52. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0509333103. Epub 2006 Feb 13.


The chromatoid body is a perinuclear, cytoplasmic cloud-like structure in male germ cells whose function has remained elusive. Here we show that the chromatoid body is related to the RNA-processing body of somatic cells. Dicer and components of microRNP complexes (including Ago proteins and microRNAs) are highly concentrated in chromatoid bodies. Furthermore, we show that Dicer interacts with a germ cell-specific chromatoid body component, the RNA helicase MVH (mouse VASA homolog). Thus, chromatoid bodies seem to operate as intracellular nerve centers of the microRNA pathway. Our findings underscore the importance of posttranscriptional gene regulation and of the microRNA pathway in the control of postmeiotic male germ cell differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Argonaute Proteins
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Male
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs / analysis
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA Helicases / analysis
  • RNA Helicases / metabolism*
  • Ribonuclease III / metabolism*
  • Spermatozoa / chemistry
  • Spermatozoa / cytology
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*


  • Argonaute Proteins
  • Chromatin
  • MicroRNAs
  • Piwil1 protein, mouse
  • Proteins
  • Ribonuclease III
  • Ddx4 protein, mouse
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases
  • RNA Helicases