Sperm chromatin released by nucleases

Igor B. Nazarov, Luda S. Shlyakhtenko, Yuri L. Lyubchenko, Irina A. Zalenskaya, Andrei O. Zalensky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In human spermatozoa, 1520% of histones are retained in the nucleus to coexist with protamines. Hypothetically, nucleohistone regions of sperm chromatin mark DNA sequences for distinctive processing during fertilization and early embryogenesis. The structural organization and molecular composition of nucleohistones in human spermatozoa is poorly studied. Here, we isolate and characterize fractions of sperm chromatin that are solubilized by endogenous and micrococcal nucleases. Chromatin isolated by either nuclease have a nucleosomal organization with the periodicity of ∼195bp (endogenous nuclease digest) and ∼189bp (micrococcal nuclease digest), which is similar to that of somatic cells. A distinct feature of sperm nucleohistone is its specific compact supra-nucleosomal organization that was demonstrated by two-dimensional electrophoresis and by atomic force microscopy. The latter technique showed compacted fiber arrays composed of globular particles with the prevailing diameter of ∼16nm. A rough estimation indicates that histones may cover continuous stretches of >50kbp of sperm DNA. This initial characterization of sperm chromatin solubilized by nucleases is important for our understanding of the bipartite structural organization of the paternal genome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalSystems Biology in Reproductive Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008


  • chromatin
  • endogenous nucleases
  • human sperm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Urology


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