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Sci Rep. 2016 Aug 18;6:31816. doi: 10.1038/srep31816.

Post-Testicular Sperm Maturation: Centriole Pairs, Found in Upper Epididymis, are Destroyed Prior to Sperm's Release at Ejaculation.

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Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, 300 Halket Street, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.
Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, 3500 Terrace Street, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.
Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation, Pittsburgh, 204 Craft Avenue, PA 15213, USA.
Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, 300 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15213, USA.


The fertilizing sperm's lengthiest unchartered voyage is through the longest, least-investigated organ in a man's body - the Epididymis. Over six meters long in men, ~80 meters in stallions and over one-hundred times a mouse's body length, there are few functions known aside from sperm storage and nutrition. While spermatogenesis is completed in the testes, here we demonstrate sperm centriole reduction occurs within the epididymis. Investigations of GFP-CENTR mice and controls demonstrate both the presence of centriole pairs in the upper caput region of the epididymis and, the destruction, first, of the distal and, then, of the proximal centriole as the sperm transits to the cauda and vas deferens in preparation for its climactic release. These centrioles can neither recruit γ-tubulin nor nucleate microtubules when eggs are inseminated or microinjected, yet numerous maternally-nucleated cytasters are found. These sperm centrioles appear as vestigial basal bodies, destroyed in the mid-to-lower corpus. Post-testicular sperm maturation, in which sperm centrioles found in the caput are destroyed prior to ejaculation, is a newly discovered function for the epididymis.

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