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Spermatogenesis. 2011 Jan;1(1):52-62.

Failure of acrosome formation and globozoospermia in the wobbler mouse, a Vps54 spontaneous recessive mutant.

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Department of Biology; Laboratory of cellular and Molecular Biology of Reproduction; University of Milano; Milan, Italy.


The acrosome is a unique organelle that plays an important role at fertilization and during sperm morphogenesis and that is absent in globozoospermia, an inherited infertility syndrome in humans. At the light of recent experimental evidence, the acrosome is considered a lysosome-related organelle to whose biogenesis both the endocytic and biosynthetic pathways contribute. Vps54 is a vesicular sorting protein involved in the retrograde traffic; the recessive Vps54(L967Q) mutation in the mouse results in the wobbler phenotype, characterized by motor-neuron degeneration and male infertility. Here we have investigated the spatio-temporal occurrence/progression of the wobbler fertility disorder starting from mice at post-natal day 35, the day of the first event of spermiation. We show that the pathogenesis of wobbler infertility originates at the first spermiogenetic wave, affecting acrosome formation and sperm head elongation. Vps54(L967Q)-labeled vesicles, on the contrary of the wild-type Vps54-labeled ones, are not able to coalesce into a larger vesicle that develops, flattens and shapes to give rise to the acrosome. Evidence that it is the malfunctioning of the endocytic traffic to hamper the development of the acrosome comes out from the study on UBPy. UBPy, a deubiquitinating enzyme, is a marker of acrosome biogenesis from the endocytic pathway. In wobbler spermatids UBPy-positive endosomes remain single, scattered vesicles that do not contribute to acrosome formation. As secondary defect of wobbler spermiogenesis, spermatid mitochondria are misorted; moreover, with the progression of the age/disease also Sertoli-germ cell adhesions are compromised suggesting a derailment in the endocytic route that underlies their restructuring.

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