Developmental genetics of secretory vesicle acidification during Caenorhabditis elegans spermatogenesis.
ABSTRACT: Secretory vesicles are used during spermatogenesis to deliver proteins to the cell surface. In Caenorhabditis elegans, secretory membranous organelles (MO) fuse with the plasma membrane to transform spermatids into fertilization-competent spermatozoa. We show that, like the acrosomal vesicle of mammalian sperm, MOs undergo acidification during development. Treatment of spermatids with the V-ATPase inhibitor bafilomycin blocks both MO acidification and formation of functional spermatozoa. There are several spermatogenesis-defective mutants that cause defects in MO morphogenesis, including spe-5. We determined that spe-5, which is on chromosome I, encodes one of two V-ATPase B paralogous subunits. The spe-5 null mutant is viable but sterile because it forms arrested, multi-nucleate spermatocytes. Immunofluorescence with a SPE-5-specific monoclonal antibody shows that SPE-5 expression begins in spermatocytes and is found in all subsequent stages of spermatogenesis. Most SPE-5 is discarded into the residual body during spermatid budding, but a small amount remains in budded spermatids where it localizes to MOs as a discrete dot. The other V-ATPase B subunit is encoded by vha-12, which is located on the X chromosome. Usually, spe-5 mutants are self-sterile in a wild-type vha-12 background. However, an extrachromosomal transgene containing wild-type vha-12 driven by its own promoter allows spe-5 mutant hermaphrodites to produce progeny, indicating that VHA-12 can at least partially substitute for SPE-5. Others have shown that the X chromosome is transcriptionally silent in the male germline, so expression of the autosomally located spe-5 gene ensures that a V-ATPase B subunit is present during spermatogenesis.
Project description:Caenorhabditis elegans spermatid formation involves asymmetric partitioning of cytoplasm during the second meiotic division. This process is mediated by specialized ER/Golgi-derived fibrous body-membranous organelles (FB-MOs), which have a fibrous body (FB) composed of bundled major sperm protein filaments and a vesicular membranous organelle (MO). spe-39 mutant spermatocytes complete meiosis but do not usually form spermatids. Ultrastructural examination of spe-39 spermatocytes reveals that MOs are absent, while FBs are disorganized and not surrounded by the membrane envelope usually observed in wild type. Instead, spe-39 spermatocytes contain many small vesicles with internal membranes, suggesting they are related to MOs. The spe-39 gene was identified and it encodes a novel hydrophilic protein. Immunofluorescence with a specific SPE-39 antiserum reveals that it is distributed through much of the cytoplasm and not specifically associated with FB-MOs in spermatocytes and spermatids. The spe-39 gene has orthologs in Drosophila melanogaster and humans but no homolog was identified in the yeast genome. This suggests that the specialized membrane biogenesis steps that occur during C. elegans spermatogenesis are part of a conserved process that requires SPE-39 homologs in other metazoan cell types.
Project description:C. elegans spermatogenesis employs lysosome-related fibrous body-membranous organelles (FB-MOs) for transport of many cellular components. Previous work showed that spe-10 mutants contain FB-MOs that prematurely disassemble, resulting in defective transport of FB components into developing spermatids. Consequently, spe-10 spermatids are smaller than wild type and contain defective FB-MO derivatives. In this article, we show that spe-10 encodes a four-pass integral membrane protein that has a DHHC-CRD zinc-finger motif. The DHHC-CRD motif is found in a large, diverse family of proteins that have been implicated in palmitoyl transfer during protein lipidation. Seven spe-10 mutants were analyzed, including missense, nonsense, and deletion mutants. An antiserum to SPE-10 showed significant colocalization with a known marker for the FB-MOs during wild-type spermatogenesis. In contrast, the spe-10(ok1149) deletion mutant lacked detectable SPE-10 staining; this mutant lacks a spe-10 promoter and most coding sequence. The spe-10(eb64) missense mutation, which changes a conserved residue within the DHHC-CRD domain in all homologues, behaves as a null mutant. These results suggest that wild-type SPE-10 is required for the MO to properly deliver the FB to the C. elegans spermatid and the DHHC-CRD domain is essential for this function.
Project description:Despite undergoing normal development and acquiring normal morphology and motility, mutations in spe-38 or trp-3/spe-41 cause identical phenotypes in Caenorhabditis elegans-mutant sperm fail to fertilize oocytes despite direct contact. SPE-38 is a novel, four-pass transmembrane protein and TRP-3/SPE-41 is a Ca(2+)-permeable channel. Localization of both of these proteins is confined to the membranous organelles (MOs) in undifferentiated spermatids. In mature spermatozoa, SPE-38 is localized to the pseudopod and TRP-3/SPE-41 is localized to the whole plasma membrane. Here we show that the dynamic redistribution of TRP-3/SPE-41 from MOs to the plasma membrane is dependent on SPE-38. In spe-38 mutant spermatozoa, TRP-3/SPE-41 is trapped within the MOs and fails to reach the cell surface despite MO fusion with the plasma membrane. Split-ubiquitin yeast-two-hybrid analyses revealed that the cell surface localization of TRP-3/SPE-41 is likely regulated by SPE-38 through a direct protein-protein interaction mechanism. We have identified sequences that influence the physical interaction between SPE-38 and TRP-3/SPE-41, and show that these sequences in SPE-38 are required for fertility in transgenic animals. Despite the mislocalization of TRP-3/SPE-41 in spe-38 mutant spermatozoa, ionomycin or thapsigargin induced influx of Ca(2+) remains unperturbed. This work reveals a new paradigm for the regulated surface localization of a Ca(2+)-permeable channel.
Project description:Sperm cells must regulate the timing and location of activation to maximize the likelihood of fertilization. Sperm from most species, including the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, activate upon encountering an external signal. Activation for C. elegans sperm occurs as spermatids undergo spermiogenesis, a profound cellular reorganization that produces a pseudopod. Spermiogenesis is initiated by an activation signal that is transduced through a series of gene products. It is now clear that an inhibitory pathway also operates in spermatids, preventing their premature progression to spermatozoa and resulting in fine-scale control over the timing of activation. Here, we describe the involvement of a newly assigned member of the inhibitory pathway: spe-4, a homolog of the human presenilin gene PS1. The spe-4(hc196) allele investigated here was isolated as a suppressor of sterility of mutations in the spermiogenesis signal transduction gene spe-27.Through mapping, complementation tests, DNA sequencing, and transformation rescue, we determined that allele hc196 is a mutation in the spe-4 gene. Our data show that spe-4(hc196) is a bypass suppressor that eliminates the need for the spermiogenesis signal transduction. On its own, spe-4(hc196) has a recessive, temperature sensitive spermatogenesis-defective phenotype, with mutants exhibiting (i) defective spermatocytes, (ii) defective spermatids, (iii) premature spermatid activation, and (iv) spermatozoa defective in fertilization, in addition to a small number of functional sperm which appear normal microscopically.A fraction of the sperm from spe-4(hc196) mutant males progress directly to functional spermatozoa without the need for an activation signal, suggesting that spe-4 plays a role in preventing spermatid activation. Another fraction of spermatozoa from spe-4(hc196) mutants are defective in fertilization. Therefore, prematurely activated spermatozoa may have several defects: we show that they may be defective in fertilization, and earlier work showed that they obstruct sperm transfer from males at mating. hc196 is a hypomorphic allele of spe-4, and its newly-discovered role inhibiting spermiogenesis may involve known proteolytic and/or calcium regulatory aspects of presenilin function, or it may involve yet-to-be discovered functions.
Project description:Immature spermatids from Caenorhabditis elegans are stimulated by an external activation signal to reorganize their membranes and cytoskeleton to form crawling spermatozoa. This rapid maturation, termed spermiogenesis, occurs without any new gene expression. To better understand this signal transduction pathway, we isolated suppressors of a mutation in the spe-27 gene, which is part of the pathway. The suppressors bypass the requirement for spe-27, as well as three other genes that act in this pathway, spe-8, spe-12, and spe-29. Eighteen of the suppressor mutations are new alleles of spe-6, a previously identified gene required for an early stage of spermatogenesis. The original spe-6 mutations are loss-of-function alleles that prevent major sperm protein (MSP) assembly in the fibrous bodies of spermatocytes and arrest development in meiosis. We have isolated the spe-6 gene and find that it encodes a predicted protein-serine/threonine kinase in the casein kinase 1 family. The suppressor mutations appear to be reduction-of-function alleles. We propose a model whereby SPE-6, in addition to its early role in spermatocyte development, inhibits spermiogenesis until the activation signal is received. The activation signal is transduced through SPE-8, SPE-12, SPE-27, and SPE-29 to relieve SPE-6 repression, thus triggering the formation of crawling spermatozoa.
Project description:Spermatogenesis in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans uses unusual organelles, called the fibrous body-membranous organelle (FB-MO) complexes, to prepackage and deliver macromolecules to spermatids during cytokinesis that accompanies the second meiotic division. Mutations in the spe-4 (spermatogenesis-defective) gene disrupt these organelles and prevent cytokinesis during spermatogenesis, but do not prevent completion of the meiotic nuclear divisions that normally accompany spermatid formation. We report an ultrastructural analysis of spe-4 mutant sperm where the normally close association of the FB's with the MO's and the double layered membrane surrounding the FB's are both defective. The internal membrane structure of the MO's is also disrupted in spe-4 mutant sperm. Although sperm morphogenesis in spe-4 mutants arrests prior to the formation of spermatids, meiosis can apparently be completed so that haploid nuclei reside in an arrested spermatocyte. We have cloned the spe-4 gene in order to understand its role during spermatogenesis and the molecular basis of how mutation of this gene disrupts this process. The spe-4 gene encodes an approximately 1.5-kb mRNA that is expressed during spermatogenesis, and the sequence of this gene suggests that it encodes an integral membrane protein. These data suggest that mutation of an integral membrane protein within FB-MO complexes disrupts morphogenesis and prevents formation of spermatids but does not affect completion of the meiotic nuclear divisions in C. elegans sperm.
Project description:Spermatogenesis is a dynamic developmental process requiring precisely timed transitions between discrete stages. Specifically, the germline undergoes three transitions: from mitotic spermatogonia to spermatocytes, from meiotic spermatocytes to spermatids, and from morphogenetic spermatids to spermatozoa. The somatic cells of the testis provide essential support to the germline throughout spermatogenesis, but their precise role during these developmental transitions has not been comprehensively explored. Here, we describe the identification and characterization of genes that are required in the somatic cells of the Drosophila melanogaster testis for progress through spermatogenesis. Phenotypic analysis of candidate genes pinpointed the stage of germline development disrupted. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that particular gene classes were associated with specific developmental transitions. Requirement for genes associated with endocytosis, cell polarity, and microtubule-based transport corresponded with the development of spermatogonia, spermatocytes, and spermatids, respectively. Overall, we identify mechanisms that act specifically in the somatic cells of the testis to regulate spermatogenesis.
Project description:Spermatogenesis is a differentiation process during which diploid spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) produce haploid spermatozoa. This highly specialized process is precisely controlled at the transcriptional, posttranscriptional, and translational levels. Here we report that N6-methyladenosine (m6A), an epitranscriptomic mark regulating gene expression, plays essential roles during spermatogenesis. We present comprehensive m6A mRNA methylomes of mouse spermatogenic cells from five developmental stages: undifferentiated spermatogonia, type A1 spermatogonia, preleptotene spermatocytes, pachytene/diplotene spermatocytes, and round spermatids. Germ cell-specific inactivation of the m6A RNA methyltransferase Mettl3 or Mettl14 with Vasa-Cre causes loss of m6A and depletion of SSCs. m6A depletion dysregulates translation of transcripts that are required for SSC proliferation/differentiation. Combined deletion of Mettl3 and Mettl14 in advanced germ cells with Stra8-GFPCre disrupts spermiogenesis, whereas mice with single deletion of either Mettl3 or Mettl14 in advanced germ cells show normal spermatogenesis. The spermatids from double-mutant mice exhibit impaired translation of haploid-specific genes that are essential for spermiogenesis. This study highlights crucial roles of mRNA m6A modification in germline development, potentially ensuring coordinated translation at different stages of spermatogenesis.
Project description:Tumor suppressor of lung cancer 1 (TSLC1), also known as SgIGSF, IGSF4, and SynCAM, is strongly expressed in spermatogenic cells undergoing the early and late phases of spermatogenesis (spermatogonia to zygotene spermatocytes and elongating spermatids to spermiation). Using embryonic stem cell technology to generate a null mutation of Tslc1 in mice, we found that Tslc1 null male mice were infertile. Tslc1 null adult testes showed that spermatogenesis had arrested at the spermatid stage, with degenerating and apoptotic spermatids sloughing off into the lumen. In adult mice, Tslc1 null round spermatids showed evidence of normal differentiation (an acrosomal cap and F-actin polarization indistinguishable from that of wild-type spermatids); however, the surviving spermatozoa were immature, malformed, found at very low levels in the epididymis, and rarely motile. Analysis of the first wave of spermatogenesis in Tslc1 null mice showed a delay in maturation by day 22 and degeneration of round spermatids by day 28. Expression profiling of the testes revealed that Tslc1 null mice showed increases in the expression levels of genes involved in apoptosis, adhesion, and the cytoskeleton. Taken together, these data show that Tslc1 is essential for normal spermatogenesis in mice.
Project description:In rat seminiferous tubules (ST), cells that contain polar and neutral lipids with long-chain polyenoic fatty acids (PUFA) and sphingomyelins (SM) and ceramides (Cer) with very long chain (VLC) PUFA of the n-6 series coexist. In this study, pachytene spermatocytes and round spermatids were isolated to determine how these lipids change during spermatogenesis. As the amount per cell of PUFA-rich glycerophospholipids (GPL) decreased with cell size, the 22:5/20:4 ratio increased with cell differentiation. The elovl2 and elovl5 genes, required for 22:5 formation, were expressed (mRNA) in both cell types. Residual bodies- particles with compacted organelles and materials discarded from late spermatids-concentrated cholesterol, 22:5-rich triacylglycerols, and GPL, including plasmalogens and phosphatidylserine. Species of SM and Cer with nonhydroxylated (n-) VLCPUFA (28:4, 30:5, and 32:5) predominated in pachytene spermatocytes, whereas species with the corresponding 2-hydroxy (2-OH) VLCPUFA prevailed in round spermatids. Thus, a dramatic increase in the 2-OH/n-VLCPUFA ratio in SM and Cer was a hallmark of differentiation. A substantial decrease of 2-OH SM occurred between spermatids and mature spermatozoa and 2-OH SM species were collected in residual bodies "en route" to Sertoli cells. Notably, spermatids and spermatozoa gained a significant amount of ceramides devoid of n-VLCPUFA but having 2-OH VLCPUFA as their main fatty acids.