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Sci Rep. 2018 Feb 9;8(1):2727. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-21165-8.

A lumenal interrupted helix in human sperm tail microtubules.

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, 41390, Sweden.
2
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, 80309, USA.
3
Krefting Research Centre, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, 41390, Sweden.
4
Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, 41390, Sweden.
5
Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, 41390, Sweden. johanna.hoog@gu.se.

Abstract

Eukaryotic flagella are complex cellular extensions involved in many human diseases gathered under the term ciliopathies. Currently, detailed insights on flagellar structure come mostly from studies on protists. Here, cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) was performed on intact human spermatozoon tails and showed a variable number of microtubules in the singlet region (inside the end-piece). Inside the microtubule plus end, a novel left-handed interrupted helix which extends several micrometers was discovered. This structure was named Tail Axoneme Intra-Lumenal Spiral (TAILS) and binds directly to 11 protofilaments on the internal microtubule wall, in a coaxial fashion with the surrounding microtubule lattice. It leaves a gap over the microtubule seam, which was directly visualized in both singlet and doublet microtubules. We speculate that TAILS may stabilize microtubules, enable rapid swimming or play a role in controlling the swimming direction of spermatozoa.

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