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Dev Biol. 2002 Aug 15;248(2):331-42.

Targeted disruption of the Akap4 gene causes defects in sperm flagellum and motility.

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Gamete Biology Section, Laboratory of Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/NIH, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


A-kinase anchoring proteins (AKAPs) tether cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinases and thereby localize phosphorylation of target proteins and initiation of signal-transduction processes triggered by cyclic AMP. AKAPs can also be scaffolds for kinases and phosphatases and form macromolecular complexes with other proteins involved in signal transduction. Akap4 is transcribed only in the postmeiotic phase of spermatogenesis and encodes the most abundant protein in the fibrous sheath, a novel cytoskeletal structure present in the principal piece of the sperm flagellum. Previous studies indicated that cyclic AMP-dependent signaling processes are important in the regulation of sperm motility, and gene targeting was used here to test the hypothesis that AKAP4 is a scaffold for protein complexes involved in regulating flagellar function. Sperm numbers were not reduced in male mice lacking AKAP4, but sperm failed to show progressive motility and male mice were infertile. The fibrous sheath anlagen formed, but the definitive fibrous sheath did not develop, the flagellum was shortened, and proteins usually associated with the fibrous sheath were absent or substantially reduced in amount. However, the other cytoskeletal components of the flagellum were present and appeared fully developed. We conclude that AKAP4 is a scaffold protein required for the organization and integrity of the fibrous sheath and that effective sperm motility is lost in the absence of AKAP4 because signal transduction and glycolytic enzymes fail to become associated with the fibrous sheath.

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