At a site near the end of the short arms of lampbrush bivalent 2 in the chicken (Gallus domesticus) there is always a marker structure that appears in the phase-contrast light microscope as a solid object with diffuse edges measuring about 4 microns across. When examined by transmission electron microscopy in thin section, this object appears as a loose bundle of fibres. In some preparations individual fibres appear 15–16 nm thick, smooth in outline and solid in cross-section. In other preparations they are 32–38 nm thick, rougher in outline and ring-like in cross-section. High-resolution scanning electron micrographs of the chromosome 2 marker show it to be a loose bundle of spaghetti-like fibres that is quite unlike anything previously seen on a lampbrush chromosome of any organism. As with the sectioned material, fibres in some preparations were smooth and 15–16 nm in diameter, whereas those in others were more knobbly and about 35 nm thick. The fibres appear to branch and in some cases it is clear that the daughter strands of a branch have the same dimensions as the parent strand. Free ends are rare. Total length of fibre material present at one marker locus is estimated to be between 500 and 2000 microns. Similar structures are not present on the lampbrush chromosomes of quail, wood pigeon or chaffinch. The nature of this fibrous marker, referred to in this paper as the “spaghetti marker”, is discussed in relation to lampbrush chromosome function and to events that take place during the lampbrush phase of oogenesis in chicken. Evidence is discussed in relation to the possibility that the chromosome 2 marker represents a novel form of nuclear RNP or the specific association of some structural protein with one chromosome locus.
- © 1992 by Company of Biologists