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Cell Stress Chaperones. 2001 Jan;6(1):71-7.

The hsp60B gene of Drosophila melanogaster is essential for the spermatid individualization process.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06269-2131, USA.


The 60-kDa heat shock protein family (Hsp60) is found in prokaryotes, mitochondria, and chloroplasts. The Hsp60 proteins promote proper protein folding by preventing aggregation. In Drosophila melanogaster, the hsp60 gene is essential for a variety of developmental processes, beginning at early embryogenesis. In this study we show that an additional member of the Drosophila hsp60 gene family, hsp60B, is essential in male fertility. In males homozygous for a mutation of the hsp60B gene, developmental processes appeared normal throughout most of spermatogenesis, including spermatocyte growth, meiosis, and spermatid elongation. At these stages, mitochondria also displayed a differentiation process similar to wild-types. However, we found that the mutation disrupted a late stage of spermatogenesis, the spermatid individualization process. In this process, the individualization complex is assembled at spermatid nuclear heads, traverses along spermatid tails, and generates membranes for each of the spermatids in a cyst. Our analysis further shows that the individualization complex in sterile males displayed abnormal morphology as it was traveling along the spermatid tails. The Drosophila Hsp60 proteins are believed to be exclusively localized in the mitochondria. Our observation that the hsp60B mutation displayed no apparent defect in mitochondrial differentiation during spermatogenesis suggests that the Hsp60B protein may operate in a nonmitochondrial location.

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