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. 2009;21(8):1008-14.
doi: 10.1071/RD09079.

Directional Mapping of DNA Nicking in Ejaculated and Cauda Epididymidal Spermatozoa of the Short-Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus Aculeatus: Monotremata)

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Directional Mapping of DNA Nicking in Ejaculated and Cauda Epididymidal Spermatozoa of the Short-Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus Aculeatus: Monotremata)

S D Johnston et al. Reprod Fertil Dev. .

Abstract

Prototherian spermatozoa are unique amongst the Mammalia in terms of their filiform morphology, tandem arrangement of chromosomes and formation of sperm bundles. In the present study, we provide observations of echidna spermatozoa and note that the superstructure of the bundle is engineered around the shape of the individual sperm head and that this in turn may be a consequence of the unusual circumferential and helicoidal condensation of the DNA during spermiogenesis. Frozen-thawed ejaculated echidna spermatozoa were incubated and examined for the presence of non-typical DNA conformation by means of in situ labelling of DNA breaks using Klenow polymerase and via alkaline single-cell comet assays for detection of fragmented DNA. Both techniques successfully revealed the presence of what appeared to be directional DNA nicking, co-localised with the presence of highly sensitive alkali sites along the length of the sperm nucleus. It was not possible to define whether these alternative DNA configurations were associated with a failure of the sperm nucleus to condense appropriately during spermiogenesis or were evidence of DNA fragmentation following post-thaw incubation or a sequential structural chromatin rearrangement necessary for fertilisation.

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