Synaptonemal complexes (SCs) have been isolated as integral components of the nuclear matrix from purified mouse pachytene spermatocytes. These nuclear synaptonemal complex-matrices are prepared by extracting Triton X-100-treated nuclei with low (0.2 M) and high (1.0 or 2.0 M) NaCl, DNase I, and RNase A to remove 85% of the nuclear proteins, 97% of the RNA, and 99% of the DNA. Studies with the light and electron microscopes indicate that these matrices, while lacking a distinct lamina, contain nuclear pores interconnected by a fiber network, residual nucleoli, and interchromatin fibers. In addition, the pachytene spermatocyte matrices contain residual XY heterochromatin and the principal components of the SCs, including two lateral elements, a central element, a presumptive centromere, and attachment plaques. These SCs are preserved within the matrix and retain their structural association with the pore-fiber complex, even when subjected to strong dissociating conditions. Nuclear matrices from pachytene spermatocytes and spermatids (steps 1-8), when analyzed by SDS PAGE, contain an array of polypeptides distinct from those of mouse liver nuclear matrices. Proteins of spermatogenic matrices range in Mr from 8,000 to approximately 150,000. The prominent lamina proteins (Mr approximately 60,000-70,000) of somatic nuclear matrices are either absent or represent only a minor part of the spermatogenic matrix. The polypeptide composition of the pachytene spermatocyte and spermatid matrices are similar, although minor quantitative and qualitative differences are evident. These observations suggest that the SC constituents may consist of a heterogeneous group of proteins present in low proportion relative to total matrix proteins, or they may be retained, but in a different form, within the spermatid matrix.

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