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Tissue Cell. 1989;21(3):361-79.

Cytoskeletal involvement in spermiation and sperm transport.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale 62901-6512.


The process of spermiation and sperm transport was studied using specific inhibitors of cytoskeletal elements. Within 12-24 hr after the intratesticular injection of taxol, a compound that acts to stabilize microtubules and inhibit microtubule-related processes, an unusually large number of microtubules was seen within the body of the Sertoli cell. At the same time, transport of elements within the seminiferous epithelium was affected. At the end of stage VI of the cycle, step 19 spermatids were maintained in the deep recesses of the Sertoli cell and not transported to the rim of the seminiferous tubule lumen. At stage VIII, residual bodies remained at, or near, the rim of the tubule and were not transported to the base of the tubule. They underwent only partial degradation at this site, indicating that there may have been two phases involved in their dissolution--one autophagic and one phagocytic, but the latter did not occur since the residual bodies were not transported to Sertoli lysosomes at the base of the tubule. The observations suggest that microtubules are involved in transport processes within the seminiferous epithelium. Within 1-12 hr after the intratesticular injection of 500 microM cytochalasin D, a compound which interferes with actin-related processes, normal appearing tubulobulbar complexes were not present. The tubular portion (distal tube) of the complex did not initiate development. It was assumed that filaments (which were identified as such using NBD-phallacidin and the S-1 fragment of myosin) played an important role in the development of this portion of the complex. Cells did not eliminate cytoplasm normally, as evidenced by an enlarged cytoplasmic droplet, further emphasizing the published role for tubulobulbar complexes in cytoplasmic elimination. Although sperm were released normally from stage VIII tubules, many remained within the tubular lumen and did not traverse the duct system. Cytochalasin did not inhibit fluid secretion by the Sertoli cell, as demonstrated by efferent duct ligation, but did alter myoid cell actin cytoskeletal organization, suggesting that myoid cell contractility is primarily responsible for transport of sperm. Overall, the observations suggest that cytoskeletal activity of the Sertoli cell is important for several aspects of the spermiation process as well as sperm transport.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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