The DNA in human sperm chromatin is packaged into nucleoprotamine (approximately 85%) and nucleohistone (approximately 15%). Whether these two chromatin fractions are sequence-specific subsets of the spermatozoon genome is the question addressed in this report. Sequence-specific packaging would suggest distinct structural and functional roles for the nucleohistone and nucleoprotamine in late spermatogenesis or early development or both. After removal of histones with 0.65M NaCl, exposed DNA was cleaved with Bam HI restriction endonuclease and separated by centrifugation from insoluble nucleoprotamine. The DNA sequence distribution of nucleohistone DNA in the supernatant and nucleoprotamine DNA in the pellet was compared by cloning size-selected single-copy sequences and by using the derived clones as probes of nucleohistone DNA and nucleoprotamine DNA. Two clones derived from nucleohistone DNA preferentially hybridized to nucleohistone DNA, and two clones derived from nucleoprotamine DNA preferentially hybridized to nucleoprotamine DNA, which demonstrated the existence of sequence-specific nucleohistone and nucleoprotamine components within the human spermatozoon.

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