The chromatoid body of male germ cells: epigenetic control and miRNA pathway

Cell Cycle. 2008 Nov 15;7(22):3503-8. doi: 10.4161/cc.7.22.6977. Epub 2008 Nov 12.


Differentiation of germ cells is characterized by a remarkable degree of cellular restructuring and gene regulation that involves complex events of genomic and epigenetic reorganization. The pathways that govern miRNAs have been shown to play an important role in the male germ cell lineage. The chromatoid body is a finely filamentous, lobulated perinuclear granule located in the cytoplasm of male germ cells. The role of the chromatoid body in the mouse has remained elusive for longtime, although it was proposed to be involved in RNA storing and metabolism. Recent findings show that the chromatoid body is related to the RNA processing body (P-body) of somatic cells and that it seems to operate as an intracellular nerve-center of the microRNA pathway. The role of the chromatoid body underscores the importance of posttranscriptional gene regulation and of the microRNA pathway in the control of postmeiotic male germ cell differentiation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / genetics
  • Cytoplasmic Structures / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • MicroRNAs / physiology
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Spermatozoa / ultrastructure*


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA