Cytochemical and radioautographic techniques define and confirm a staging scheme for developing spermatids of the decapod crab, Emerita analoga. Quantitative photometric data demonstrate that developing spermatids lose a significant proportion of their nuclear proteins, as evidenced by diminishing binding of fluorodinitrobenzene. Photometric results also show that much (but not all) of the spermatid nuclear protein loss is in somatic-type histone, as evidenced by a dramatic fall in the histone/DNA ratio of these cells during a period in which nuclear DNA content remains constant. By the end of spermiogenesis, the sperm nuclear histone and protamine content is approximately zero, whereas some nonbasic protein persists. Loss of spermatid nuclear somatic-type histone is not accompanied by synthesis of gamete-type histone (e.g. protamine or arginine-rich histone), showing that the processes of displacement and synthesis of nuclear basic proteins during histone transition are not subject to obligatory coupling. Labeling studies suggest that nonbasic acrosomal proteins (presumably partly enzymes) are synthesized in the cytoplasm, after which they move into the acrosome. Stainable basic proteins accumulate in the acrosome during precisely the period of nuclear somatic histone loss, suggesting nuclear-cytoplasmic transfer.

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