Electron microscopic studies of rat sperm heads treated with urea, dithiothreitol, and micrococcal nuclease



Urea and dithiothreitol can decondense the chromatin in some of rat sperm heads. By this treatment, we have observed that in the nuclei of rat sperm the chromatin is organized into two morphologically distinct portions, namely: the compact chromatin rods of about 450 to 1,000 Å thick, and the interlacing fibers about 250–290 Å in thickness. When these treated sperm are further digested with micrococcal nuclease, the small fibers disappear, whereas the chromatin rods are still present in the “urea-nuclease pellet.” From the available evidence, we suggest that the chromatin rods represent the highly packed nucleoprotamine, whereas the small fibers represent the more loosely organized nucleohistone.