During mammalian spermatogenesis, the chromatin of the spermatogenic cells is profoundly reorganized. Somatic histones are partly replaced by testis-specific histones. These histones are then replaced by transition proteins and finally by protamines. This series of nucleoprotein rearrangements results in a highly condensed sperm cell nucleus. In contrast to spermatozoa from other species, human spermatozoa still contain a significant amount of histones, including testis-specific histone 2B (TH2B). In the present study it is shown that an antibody targeting tyrosine hydroxylase, which has been found previously to cross-react with rat TH2B, also specifically immunoreacts with human TH2B on Western blots, in immunohistochemistry of human testis tissue, and in immunocytochemistry of decondensed human spermatozoa. In human testis tissue, TH2B immunostaining first apparent in spermatogonia, shows marked variation, especially at the pachytene spermatocyte stage, and then reaches an intense signal in round spermatids. Shortly before spermatid elongation, a portion of the spermatid nucleus, corresponding to the acrosomal region, loses its immunoreactivity. During condensation of the spermatid nucleus, the immunodetectability of TH2B disappears gradually, from the anterior region of the nucleus onwards. At the final stages of spermiogenesis, the immunostaining is completely absent. Immunocytochemical staining of spermatozoa revealed no TH2B immunosignal, but immunostaining was observed when spermatozoa obtained from semen were decondensed to make nuclear proteins accessible to the antibody. There was, however, a striking intercellular variability in the intensity of staining of spermatozoa within an ejaculate. In a population of 35 men attending our Andrology Clinic, we observed interindividual differences in total sperm TH2B content, which showed a significant, although not very pronounced, negative correlation with normal morphology (P = 0.05).

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Human Reproduction
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Roijen, J. H., Ooms, M., Spaargaren, M. C., Baarends, W., Weber, R., Grootegoed, A., & Vreeburg, J. (1998). Immunoexpression of testis-specific histone 2B in human spermatozoa and testis tissue. Human Reproduction. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/8871