305 SPERM CHROMATIN STRUCTURE AND DNA METHYLATION BULLS
K. Hengstberger, N. Phutikanit, O. Berking, M. D'Occhio, D. Sester and B. Carroll
Reproduction, Fertility and Development
18(2) 260 - 260
Published: 14 December 2005
Mammalian spermatogenesis is a complex process that involves genome-wide deprogramming and reprogramming of DNA methylation at different stages in order to produce sperm that are capable of fertilization and also TO support ongoing embryo development (Webster et al. 2005 PNAS 102, 4068-4073). Embryonic mortality occurs when there is inappropriate expression of developmentally regulated genes of both maternal and paternal origin. DNA methylation is associated with epigenetic regulation of gene expression and it was recently shown that aberrant DNA methylation causes a change in sperm chromatin structure (Webster et al. 2005). Studies, primarily in man, have indicated that sperm chromatin instability, as determined by the sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA), does not influence fertilization but is linked with early pregnancy failure (Evenson and Jost 2000 Methods Cell Sci. 22, 169-189). The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between chromatin structure and DNA methylation in bull sperm. Chromatin structure was determined using the SCSA that involves the exposure of sperm to a low pH (1.2) detergent solution followed by the addition of acridine orange (AO). When exposed to a 488 nm laser, AO fluoresces green when bound to native (double-stranded) DNA and red when bound to denatured (single-stranded) DNA. The SCSA yields a value for the DNA fragmentation index (DFI), and in men a DFI > 27-30% is associated with early embryonic mortality (Larson-Cook et al. 2003 Fertil. Steril. 80, 895-902). Semen was obtained by electroejaculation from Zebu (Bos indicus) bulls (n = 12) in a subtropical environment; a proportion of bulls had a DFI < 15% (n = 4) and the remainder a DFI > 27% (n = 8). The DNA methylation pattern, as determined by the amplified methylation polymorphism (AMP) protocol (Webster et al. 2005), appeared to differ between sperm with a DFI < 15% and sperm with a DFI > 27% when assessed by principle coordinate analysis. Also, sperm with a DFI < 15% had a more consistent methylation pattern compared with apparent differences in methylation among sperm with a DFI > 27%. These preliminary findings could be interpreted to suggest that methylation status can contribute to chromatin structure in sperm of mature bulls. It remains to be determined whether the environment can influence sperm chromatin status in bulls by altering DNA methylation which then impacts on the conformational changes in DNA that occur during spermiogenesis.
This work was supported, in part, by Meat and Livestock Australia.
Full text doi:10.1071/RDv18n2Ab305
© CSIRO 2006