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Dev Biol. 1998 Jul 15;199(2):250-60.

Developmental expression of the 84-kDa ODF sperm protein: localization to both the cortex and medulla of outer dense fibers and to the connecting piece.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Outer dense fibers (ODF) are specialized cytoskeletal elements of the mammalian sperm tail which are composed of several prominent proteins. We previously reported the isolation of a cDNA (111-450) encoding a putative 84-kDa ODF protein. Here we demonstrate by independent cDNA isolations and by translational/immunoprecipitation of testicular mRNAs using anti-ODF 84 antibodies that 111-450 cDNA encodes the 84-kDa protein. We then analyzed the testicular expression of the ODF 84 mRNA and protein. Riboprobes generated from the clones recognized four testicular-specific transcripts of 1.6, 2.2, 2.4, and 2.8 kb in both rat and bull of which the immunoprecipitable product of the 2.4-kb mRNA comigrates with ODF 84 protein. Developmental Northerns indicated that the 2.2- and 2.4-kb mRNAs are first transcribed during meiotic prophase while the other two species are first expressed in round spermatids. The levels of all the transcripts steadily increased up to elongated spermatids. Immunocytochemistry revealed that the anti-84 reactive ODF proteins were synthesized and assembled in the cytoplasm of elongated spermatids (steps 9-18) with peak activity occurring in step 16 of spermiogenesis. Immunogold labeling was selective to the assembling ODF and connecting piece of the tail and to granulated bodies of the cytoplasmic lobe. Both the striated collar and capitulum of the connecting piece were immunolabeled as well as the basal plate of the implantation fossa. A combination of pre- and postembedding immunogold labeling provided evidence that the 84-kDa ODF protein is localized to both the cortex and medulla of the ODF in contrast to the sole medullary localization of the major 27-kDa ODF protein. Thus the 84-kDa ODF protein, encoded by the 2.4 transcript, is translationally regulated, packaged after synthesis into granulated bodies, assembled in a proximal to distal direction along the axoneme and may interact by means of leucine zippers specifically with the 27-kDa ODF protein during assembly. Its localization to both the cortex and medulla of the ODF, as opposed to exclusive medullary localization of the 27-kDa ODF protein, and the presence of two leucine zippers, only one of which interacts with the 27-kDa ODF, suggests that it could act as a link between proteins of the two regions of the ODF.

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