Nuclear matrix involvement in sperm head structural organization

Spartaco Santi, Silvia Rubbini, Caterina Cinti, Stefano Squarzoni, Alessandro Matteucci, Elisabetta Caramelli, Lia Guidotti, Nadir M. Maraldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the sperm nuclei the DNA is packaged into a highly condensed form and is not organized into nucleosome and solenoid but is bound and stabilized mainly by the protamines that arrange the DNA in an almost crystalline state. As demonstrated for somatic cells, the sperm DNA has been reported to be organized in loop domains attached to the nuclear matrix structures. However, the possible role of the sperm head matrix in maintaining the loop organization in absence of a typical nucleosomal structures has not been fully elucidated. By using in situ nick translation at confocal and electron microscope level, we analyzed the organization of the DNAprotamine complex and its association with the sperm nuclear matrix. The data obtained indicate that the chromatin organization in sperm nuclei is maintained during the sperm condensation by means of interactions with the nuclear matrix at fixed sites. The fine stucture of sperm nucleus and of sperm nuclear matrix, investigated on sections and replicas of freeze-fractured specimens, suggests that the lamellar array, observed by freeze-fracturing in the sperm nuclei, could depend on the inner matrix which presents a regular organization of globular structures possibly involved in the maintenance of chromatin domains in highly condensed sperm nuclei also.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalBiology of the cell / under the auspices of the European Cell Biology Organization
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • chromatin organization
  • confocal laser scanning microscope
  • freeze-fracturing
  • in situ nick translation
  • nuclear matrix
  • rat spermatozoa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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