In mammals, the X and Y chromosomes are subject to meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI) during prophase I in the male germline, but their status thereafter is currently unclear. An abundance of X-linked spermatogenesis genes has spawned the view that the X must be active [1-8]. On the other hand, the idea that the imprinted paternal X of the early embryo may be preinactivated by MSCI suggests that silencing may persist longer [9-12]. To clarify this issue, we establish a comprehensive X-expression profile during mouse spermatogenesis. Here, we discover that the X and Y occupy a novel compartment in the postmeiotic spermatid and adopt a non-Rabl configuration. We demonstrate that this postmeiotic sex chromatin (PMSC) persists throughout spermiogenesis into mature sperm and exhibits epigenetic similarity to the XY body. In the spermatid, 87% of X-linked genes remain suppressed postmeiotically, while autosomes are largely active. We conclude that chromosome-wide X silencing continues from meiosis to the end of spermiogenesis, and we discuss implications for proposed mechanisms of imprinted X-inactivation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)