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Critical Reviews™ in Eukaryotic Gene Expression

Impact factor: 1.660

ISSN Print: 1045-4403
ISSN Online: 2162-6502

Critical Reviews™ in Eukaryotic Gene Expression

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevEukarGeneExpr.v6.i2-3.30
pages 139-147

The Unique, Complex Organization of the Transcriptionally Silent Sperm Chromatin

W. Steven Ward
Division of Urology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ
Andrei O. Zalensky
Department of Biological Chemistry, University of California, Davis, CA


The sperm nucleus contains one haploid copy of the genome that is completely transcriptionally silent and is not being replicated. Recent evidence has revealed that this "silent" chromatin nevertheless contains a complex organization at all levels. This includes DNA loop domain formation by the sperm nuclear matrix that is gene specific and highly ordered folding patterns of the chromosomes, particularly with respect to centromere and telomere positioning. Such specificity in the sperm DNA organization suggests functional requirements for their existence. As these begin to emerge, the sperm nucleus is becoming an important model for the study of the eukaryotic genome.