In the seminiferous epithelium, both DNA synthesis and apoptosis occur at equivalent stages in various species, with apoptosis taking place mainly at the same stages as DNA replication in the second, third and fourth spermatogonial generations. As preservation of the cellular associations found at these stages may have some functional significance, it is important to determine whether there is a correlation between these cellular events. In this study, pairs of immunoperoxidase-stained adjacent testis sections from rats, mice, rabbits and cats in which either bromodeoxyuridine incorporated into the newly synthesized DNA strand (BrdU labelling) or DNA 3' end labelling of the apoptotic DNA fragments (TUNEL assay) were detected were compared. In addition, both events were analysed in double-labelled sections. These two methods revealed a clear correlation between the occurrence of DNA replication in the second to fourth generations of spermatogonia and most physiological apoptosis taking place in both spermatogonia and spermatocytes in the three different mammalian orders (Rodentia, Lagomorpha and Carnivora). This correlation may result from the synchronization of mitotic spermatogonial and meiotic spermatocyte cell cycle checkpoints operating at these stages.
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