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BMC Dev Biol. 2009 Mar 19;9:23. doi: 10.1186/1471-213X-9-23.

Spatiotemporal association of DNAJB13 with the annulus during mouse sperm flagellum development.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.



The sperm annulus is a septin-based fibrous ring structure connecting the midpiece and the principal piece of the mammalian sperm flagellum. Although ultrastructural abnormalities and functional importance of the annulus have been addressed in Sept4-null mutant mice and a subset of human patients with asthenospermia syndrome, little is known about how the structure is assembled and positioned to the midpiece-principal piece junction during mammalian sperm flagellum development.


By performing immunofluorescence and biochemical approaches with antibodies against DNAJB13 and an annulus constituent SEPT4, we report here a spatiotemporal association of DNAJB13 with sperm annulus during mouse sperm flagellum development. DNAJB13 co-localized with SEPT4 to the annulus, and both were first able to be detected in step 9 spermatids. As spermiogenesis proceeded, the annular DNAJB13 immunosignal increased until the annulus reached the midpiece-principal piece junction, and then gradually disappeared from it in late spermiogenesis. In contrast, the SEPT4 immunosignal was relatively unaltered, and still present on annulus of mature spermatozoa. In Sept4-null mouse spermatids lacking the annulus structure, the annulus-like DNAJB13 immunosignal was still able to be detected, albeit weaker, at the neck region of the flagella. In vitro DNAJB13 was co-localized and interacted with SEPT4 directly.


The direct interaction of DNAJB13 with SEPT4 in vitro and its spatiotemporal association with the annulus during sperm flagellum development, and even its annulus-like appearance in the annulus-deficient spermatids, suggest that DNAJB13 may be involved in assembling the annulus structure and positioning it towards the midpiece-principal piece junction.

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