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Keywords:

  • flow cytometry;
  • DNA;
  • sperm separation;
  • fluorescent stain

Abstract

The only established difference on which to base the separation of X and Y chromosome-bearing spermatozoa is chromosomal constitution. This difference is quantifiable both from chromosome morphology (karyotype) and from DNA content. Flow cytometric techniques were used to measure relative DNA content of the X and Y populations and to flow-sort spermatozoa from Chinchilla laniger. Epididymal spermatozoa were recovered in PBS, fixed in 80% ethanol, treated with papain and dithioerythritol, and stained for DNA with Hoechst 33342. Sperm nuclei were analyzed and sorted on an EPICS V flow cytometer/cell sorter, modified specifically for spermatozoa. Two clearly resolved peaks (coefficient of variation < 1.5%) with approximately 7.5% difference in DNA content between X and Y chromosome-bearing spermatozoa were evident. Sperm nuclei were sorted from a portion of the X and Y peaks at a rate of 55 nuclei/sec for each population. Purities of individual X and Y populations averaged 95% as determined by reanalysis of the sorted populations. Successful sorting of Chinchilla X and Y chromosome-bearing spermatozoa into separate populations may aid in the identification of a biochemical marker that could be used to discriminate between the two sperm populations and lead to a practical procedure for sexing spermatozoa.