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Chromosome Res. 2004;12(8):817-23.

Nature of telomere dimers and chromosome looping in human spermatozoa.

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  • 1The Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA 23507, USA.


Specific and well-organized chromosome architecture in human sperm cells is supported by the prominent interactions between centromeres and between telomeres. The telomere-telomere interactions result in telomere dimers that are positioned at the nuclear periphery. It is unknown whether composition of sperm telomere dimers is random or specific. We now report that telomere dimers result from specific interactions between the two ends of each chromosome. FISH using pairs of subtelomeric DNA probes that correspond to the small and long arms of seven human chromosomes demonstrates that subtelomeres of one chromosome are brought together. Statistical analysis confirmed that telomere associations could not result from the random proximity of DNA sequences. Therefore, chromosomes in human sperm nuclei adopt a looped conformation. This higher-order chromosome structure is most likely required for chromosome withdrawal/decondensation during the early fertilization events leading to zygote formation.

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