Cytochemical study of the distribution of RNA and DNA in the synaptonemal complex of guinea-pig and rat spermatocytes

R. Ortiz, O. M. Echeverría, E. Ubaldo, A. Carlos, C. Scassellati, G. H. Vázquez-Nin

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The distribution of DNA and RNA in the synaptonemal complex and related structures, was studied using high resolution cytochemical methods and in situ hybridization, in guinea pig and rat testis. Serial sectioning demonstrates that frequently the formation of the synaptonemal complex (SC) occurs without a previous development of isolated chromosomal axes. The lateral elements of the forming SC are in continuity with pairs of DNA-containing thin filaments. These chromatin filaments fold in numerous short loops just before incorporating to the lateral elements. Some of these loops are included in the ribbon-like structure of the lateral elements of the mature SC. We propose that these short loops contain the DNA attachment sequences associated with the proteins of the LE. During the formation of the SC one of the two chromatin filaments incorporates at the central surface of the forming lateral element (LE) and the other is located at the external side of the LE. This unexpected distribution does not correspond to the pair of thick filaments previously discerned in structure of the LE. The presence of RNA associated with the DNA-containing thin filaments, as well as with the axial chromatin elements of the forming SC, may be related with the transcription occurring during meiotic prophase, specially during zygotene stage. We propose that RNA is involved in a still uncharacterized process essential for pairing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-142
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean journal of histochemistry : EJH
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Electron microscopy
  • In situ hybridization
  • Mammalian testis
  • Meiosis
  • Ribonucleoprotein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Anatomy
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Developmental Biology


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