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    Spermatogenesis is a complex biological process during which diploid cells undergo successive mitotic and meiotic division followed by large structural changes to form haploid spermatozoa. Besides the biological aspect, studying spermatogenesis is of paramount importance for understanding and developing genetic technologies such as gene drive and synthetic sex ratio distorters, which, by altering Mendelian inheritance and the sperm sex ratio, respectively, could be used to control pest insect populations. These technologies have proven to be very promising in lab settings and could potentially be used to control wild populations of Anopheles mosquitoes, which are vectors of malaria. Due to the simplicity of the testis anatomy and their medical importance, Anopheles gambiae, a major malaria vector in sub-Saharan Africa, represents a good cytological model for studying spermatogenesis. This protocol describes how whole-mount fluorescence in situ hybridization (WFISH) can be used to study the dramatic changes in cell nuclear structure through spermatogenesis using fluorescent probes that specifically stain the X and Y chromosomes. FISH usually requires the disruption of the reproductive organs to expose mitotic or meiotic chromosomes and allow the staining of specific genomic regions with fluorescent probes. WFISH enables the preservation of the native cytological structure of the testis, coupled with a good level of signal detection from fluorescent probes targeting repetitive DNA sequences. This allows researchers to follow changes in the chromosomal behavior of cells undergoing meiosis along the structure of the organ, where each phase of the process can clearly be distinguished. This technique could be particularly useful for studying chromosome meiotic pairing and investigating the cytological phenotypes associated with, for example, synthetic sex ratio distorters, hybrid male sterility, and the knock-out of genes involved in spermatogenesis.


    Matteo Vitale, Jiangtao Liang, Igor Sharakhov, Federica Bernardini. Whole-Mount Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization to Study Spermatogenesis in the Anopheles Mosquito. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 2023 May 26(195)

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    PMID: 37306461

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