A new model of sperm nuclear architecture following assessment of the organization of centromeres and telomeres in three-dimensions

Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 31;7:41585. doi: 10.1038/srep41585.


The organization of chromosomes in sperm nuclei has been proposed to possess a unique "hairpin-loop" arrangement, which is hypothesized to aid in the ordered exodus of the paternal genome following fertilization. This study simultaneously assessed the 3D and 2D radial and longitudinal organization of telomeres, centromeres, and investigated whether chromosomes formed the same centromere clusters in sperm cells. Reproducible radial and longitudinal non-random organization was observed for all investigated loci using both 3D and 2D approaches in multiple subjects. We report novel findings, with telomeres and centromeres being localized throughout the nucleus but demonstrating roughly a 1:1 distribution in the nuclear periphery and the intermediate regions with <15% occupying the nuclear interior. Telomeres and centromeres were observed to aggregate in sperm nuclei, forming an average of 20 and 7 clusters, respectively. Reproducible longitudinal organization demonstrated preferential localization of telomeres and centromeres in the mid region of the sperm cell. Preliminary evidence is also provided to support the hypothesis that specific chromosomes preferentially form the same centromere clusters. The more segmental distribution of telomeres and centromeres as described in this study could more readily accommodate and facilitate the sequential exodus of paternal chromosomes following fertilization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Centromere / genetics*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Telomere / genetics*