Summary. At 2 weeks of age, 11 isoenzymes were expressed and similar banding patterns on vertical polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE), stained by α- or β-naphthyl acetate as a substrate, were obtained for tissues or fluids from the proximal and the distal parts of the mouse epididymis. After this period, the emergence of new bands or the disappearance of certain others led to a regional differentiation which appeared progressively in tissues and fluids, earlier in the distal part than in the proximal part. The changes occurring during epididymal differentiation affected the isoenzymes specific to the epididymis more than those common to testis and serum.
Castration of adult mice induced a decrease in esterase activity and changes in the number of isoenzymes, leading to the loss of regional specificity of the banding patterns. The dedifferentiation process modified the electrophoretic profiles of the distal part only. Androgen replacement restored the regional specificity of cytosol banding patterns after 2 weeks of treatment and the normal intensity of bands after 4 weeks. Some differences in the fluid isoenzymes nevertheless persisted. The androgen-dependence of esterase isoenzymes can be attributed to circulatory hormones rather than to androgens from the testis via the rete testis as shown by efferent ductule ligation which did not modify the epididymal esterase profiles.