Acrocentric centromere organization within the chromocenter of the human sperm nucleus

Merav Gurevitch, Aliza Amiel, Moshe Ben-Zion, Moshe Fejgin, Benjamin Bartoov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has recently been reported that in human sperm cells, the centromeres are clustered in a chromocenter in the interior region of the nucleus. The aim of the present study was to determine the intra-chromocenter organization of the five centromeres of the acrocentric chromosomes responsible for the biosynthesis of rRNA. The acrocentric centromeres were labeled by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) after mild decondensation of the sperm nuclei to preserve the tail structure. The tail was used as a topographical marker for the orientation of the nucleus. The following results were obtained: (a) the association among the five centromeres was higher than expected from random distribution; (b) all the centromeres observed were randomly located within the chromo-center, occupying about 87% of the total area of the internal nucleus; (c) a major subpopulation of centromeres was located in a preferred area occupying 8.3% of the total nuclear area, with a peak 0.6 μm on the lateral axis and 1.0 μm on the apical side of the longitudinal axis; and (d) The dispersion of the centromeres was not influenced by the degree of the nuclear decondensation. We conclude that in human sperm nuclei, the acrocentric centromeres are organized within a nonlocalized structural element in the chromocenter. The chromocenter can range from an expanded size of 87% of the whole nucleus to a preferred size of 8.3% independent of the degree of nuclear decondensation. These findings have important implications for nuclear function (rRNA) that is not directly related to sperm cell function or early embryo development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-516
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Reproduction and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Chromosome arrangement
  • Fluorescence in situ hybridization
  • Human sperm cells


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