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Dev Biol. 1983 Jul;98(1):70-9.

The initiation of spermiogenesis in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.


Spermiogenesis in nematodes involves the activation of sessile spherical spermatids to motile bipolar amoeboid spermatozoa. In Caenorhabditis elegans males spermiogenesis is normally induced by copulation. Spermatids transferred to hermaphrodites as well as some of those left behind in the male become spermatozoa a few minutes after mating. Spermiogenesis can also be induced in vitro by the ionophore monensin (G.A. Nelson and S. Ward, 1980, Cell 19, 457-464) and by weak bases such as triethanolamine. Both triethanolamine and monensin cause a rapid increase in intracellular pH from 7.1 to 7.5 or 8.0. This pH increase precedes the subsequent morphological events of spermiogenesis. Triethanolamine or monensin must be present throughout spermiogenesis for all cells to form pseudopods, but once pseudopods are formed the inducers are unnecessary for subsequent motility. The pH induced spermiogenesis is inhibited by drugs that block mitochondria or glycolysis. Protease treatment can also induce spermiogenesis without increasing intracellular pH, apparently bypassing the pH-dependent steps in activation and the requirement for glycolysis. These results show that the initiation of spermiogenesis in C. elegans, like some steps in egg activation and the initiation of sea urchin sperm motility, can be induced by an increase in intracellular pH, but this pH change can be bypassed by proteolysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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