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Genetically haploid spermatids are phenotypically diploid


Because chromosomal homologues segregate from one another during meiosis, spermatids are genetically different. Post-meiotic gene expression could lead to gametic differences, some of which might lead to preferential transmission of certain alleles over others. In both insects and mammals, however, all the cells derived from a single spermatogonial cell develop within a common syncytium formed as a result of incomplete cytokinesis at each of the mitotic and meiotic cell divisions1–3. It has been proposed that the intercellular bridges connecting the cells, which are about 1 μm in diameter4, permit the sharing of cytoplasmic constituents, thus ensuring the synchronous development of a clone of cells and gametic equivalence between haploid spermatids2,5,6. By analysing the product of a transgene which is expressed exclusively in post-meiotic germ cells in hemizygous transgenic mice, we have shown that genetically distinct spermatids share the product of the trans-gene and hence can be phenotypically equivalent.

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Braun, R., Behringer, R., Peschon, J. et al. Genetically haploid spermatids are phenotypically diploid. Nature 337, 373–376 (1989).

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