Meiotic telomere distribution and sertoli cell nuclear architecture are altered in Atm- and Atm-p53-deficient mice

H. Scherthan, M. Jerratsch, S. Dhar, Y. A. Wang, S. P. Goff, T. K. Pandita

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67 Scopus citations


The ataxia telangiectasia mutant (ATM) protein is an intrinsic part of the cell cycle machinery that surveys genomic integrity and responses to genotoxic insult. Individuals with ataxia telangiectasia as well as Atm(-/-) mice are predisposed to cancer and are infertile due to spermatogenesis disruption during first meiotic prophase. Atm(-/-) spermatocytes frequently display aberrant synapsis and clustered telomeres (bouquet topology). Here, we used telomere fluorescent in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence (IF) staining of SCP3 and testes-specific histone H1 (H1t) to spermatocytes of Atm- and Atm-p53-deficient mice and investigated whether gonadal atrophy in Atm-null mice is associated with stalling of telomere motility in meiotic prophase. SCP3-H1t IF revealed that most Atm(-/-) p53(-/-) spermatocytes degenerated during late zygotene, while a few progressed to pachytene and diplotene and some even beyond metaphase II, as indicated by the presence of a few round spermatids. In Atm(-/-) p53(-/-) meiosis, the frequency of spermatocytes I with bouquet topology was elevated 72-fold. Bouquet spermatocytes with clustered telomeres were generally void of lilt signals, while mid-late pachytene and diplotene Atm(-/-) p53(-/-) spermatocytes displayed expression of H1t and showed telomeres dispersed over the nuclear periphery. Thus, it appears that meiotic telomere movements occur independently of ATM signaling. Atm inactivation more likely leads to accumulation of spermatocytes I with bouquet topology by slowing progression through initial stages of first meiotic prophase and an ensuing arrest and demise of spermatocytes I. Sertoli cells (SECs), which contribute to faithful spermatogenesis, in the Atm mutants were found to frequently display numerous heterochromatin and telomere clusters - A nuclear topology which resembles that of immature SECs. However, Atm(-/-) SECs exhibited a mature vimentin and cytokeratin 8 intermediate filament expression signature. Upon IF with ATM antibodies, we observed ATM signals throughout the nuclei of human and mouse SECs, spermatocytes I, and haploid round spermatids. ATM but not H1t was absent from elongating spermatid nuclei. Thus, ATM appears to be removed from spermatid nuclei prior to the occurrence of DNA nicks which emanate as a consequence of nucleoprotamine formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7773-7783
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number20
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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