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Urol Res. 1999 Oct;27(5):336-45.

Postmeiotic modifications of spermatogenic cells are accompanied by inhibition of telomerase activity.

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  • 1Department of Urology, Tottori University School of Medicine, Nishimachi 36-1, Yonago 683, Tottori-ken, Japan.


We investigated whether testicular telomerase activity is due to telomerase expression in all cells or expression in a limited number of cells. Telomerase activity was assayed in highly purified fractions of spermatogonia cells plus primary spermatocytes, secondary spermatocytes plus round spermatids, secondary spermatocytes plus spermatids plus spermatozoa, round spermatids, or spermatozoa prepared from healthy or cryptorchid animals. Telomerase activity was additionally assayed in testicular tissue of prepubertal animals and animals with Sertoli cell only pathophysiology. Telomerase activity was detected in fractions containing primary spermatocytes and/or secondary spermatocytes and/or spermatids. Fractions enriched in round spermatids were positive for telomerase activity. In contrast, spermatozoa or Sertoli cell fractions were negative for telomerase activity. Using the relative telomerase activity assay and the sensitive quantitative telomerase assay to quantify telomerase activity, we showed that induction of cryptorchidism does not result in quantitative alterations in testicular tissue telomerase activity. In addition, elimination of round spermatids does not lead to significant alterations in testicular tissue telomerase activity. The present results suggest that the male gamete telomerase activity is inhibited during spermiogenesis. Furthermore, it appears that spermatogonia/primary spermatocytes are the main sources of telomerase activity in the testis.

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