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Microsc Res Tech. 2010 Apr;73(4):279-319. doi: 10.1002/jemt.20787.

Surfing the wave, cycle, life history, and genes/proteins expressed by testicular germ cells. Part 2: changes in spermatid organelles associated with development of spermatozoa.

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Faculty of Medicine, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2B2.


Spermiogenesis is a long process whereby haploid spermatids derived from the meiotic divisions of spermatocytes undergo metamorphosis into spermatozoa. It is subdivided into distinct steps with 19 being identified in rats, 16 in mouse and 8 in humans. Spermiogenesis extends over 22.7 days in rats and 21.6 days in humans. In this part, we review several key events that take place during the development of spermatids from a structural and functional point of view. During early spermiogenesis, the Golgi apparatus forms the acrosome, a lysosome-like membrane bound organelle involved in fertilization. The endoplasmic reticulum undergoes several topographical and structural modifications including the formation of the radial body and annulate lamellae. The chromatoid body is fully developed and undergoes structural and functional modifications at this time. It is suspected to be involved in RNA storing and processing. The shape of the spermatid head undergoes extensive structural changes that are species-specific, and the nuclear chromatin becomes compacted to accommodate the stream-lined appearance of the sperm head. Microtubules become organized to form a curtain or manchette that associates with spermatids at specific steps of their development. It is involved in maintenance of the sperm head shape and trafficking of proteins in the spermatid cytoplasm. During spermiogenesis, many genes/proteins have been implicated in the diverse dynamic events occurring at this time of development of germ cells and the absence of some of these have been shown to result in subfertility or infertility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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