ABSTRACT: In Eimeria tenella, meiotic division occurs exclusively in oocysts within the first 8h of sporulation. Difficulties with the wall-oocyst breakage in gaining access to chromosomes during meiosis have resulted in a scarcity of morphological data on Eimeria chromosomes. This study tracks the general behaviour of telomeres, attachment plaques and synaptonemal complexes in the nucleus of the meiotic oocyst of E. tenella. Fluorescence microscopy methods, in combination with immunoelectron microscopy techniques, were applied to obtain a series of time-lapse images during oocyst sporulation. Antibodies to Structural Maintenance of Chromosome proteins SMC1 and SMC3, and lamin were labelled with either fluorescence or colloidal gold to visualise the telomeres, central elements of the synaptonemal complex (SC) and nuclear periphery, respectively, at both the structural and ultrastructural levels. Using oocyst spreads and ultrathin sections of fixed oocysts it was possible to study telomere dynamics at stages during meiosis. The stages of the meiotic prophase I are delineated on the basis of the telomere position and the SC synapsis and desynapsis. During the leptotene stage, at 4h following the start of sporulation, meiotic chromosomes attached to the nuclear envelope. At that stage, chromosome synapsis was initiated in the telomeric regions but no interstitial synapsis pairing was observed. In the zygotene stage, telomere signals were clustered in a limited area of the nuclear envelope. Bouquet formation occurred at 5h after the start of sporulation, whereas chromosomes did not appear completely synapsed until the pachytene stage at 6h of sporulation. Desynapsis was observed at 8h of sporulation during the diplotene stage. This study provides the first morphological description of both the behaviour of the chromosomes and the timing of the prophase I stages in the meiotic nucleus of E. tenella.
International journal for parasitology 10/2009; 40(4):453-62. · 3.39 Impact Factor