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  • Author: Shiyang Zhang x
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Shiyang Zhang, Yunhao Liu, Qian Huang, Shuo Yuan, Hong Liu, Lin Shi, Yi Tian Yap, Wei Li, Jingkai Zhen, Ling Zhang, Rex A Hess and Zhibing Zhang

Intraflagellar transport (IFT) is a conserved mechanism essential for the assembly and maintenance of most eukaryotic cilia and flagella. IFT172 is a component of the IFT complex. Global disruption of mouse Ift172 gene caused typical phenotypes of ciliopathy. Mouse Ift172 gene appears to translate two major proteins; the full-length protein is highly expressed in the tissues enriched in cilia and the smaller 130 kDa one is only abundant in the testis. In male germ cells, IFT172 is highly expressed in the manchette of elongating spermatids. A germ cell-specific Ift172 mutant mice were generated, and the mutant mice did not show gross abnormalities. There was no difference in testis/body weight between the control and mutant mice, but more than half of the adult homozygous mutant males were infertile and associated with abnormally developed germ cells in the spermiogenesis phase. The cauda epididymides in mutant mice contained less developed sperm that showed significantly reduced motility, and these sperm had multiple defects in ultrastructure and bent tails. In the mutant mice, testicular expression levels of some IFT components, including IFT20, IFT27, IFT74, IFT81 and IFT140, and a central apparatus protein SPAG16L were not changed. However, expression levels of ODF2, a component of the outer dense fiber, and AKAP4, a component of fibrous sheath, and two IFT components IFT25 and IFT57 were dramatically reduced. Our findings demonstrate that IFT172 is essential for normal male fertility and spermiogenesis in mice, probably by modulating specific IFT proteins and transporting/assembling unique accessory structural proteins into spermatozoa.

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Yunhao Liu, Ling Zhang, Wei Li, Qian Huang, Shuo Yuan, Yuhong Li, Junpin Liu, Shiyang Zhang, Guanglun Pin, Shizhen Song, Pierre F Ray, Christophe Arnoult, Chunghee Cho, Balbina Garcia-Reyes, Uwe Knippschild, Jerome F Strauss III and Zhibing Zhang

Mammalian SPAG6, the orthologue of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii PF16, is a component of the central apparatus of the ‘9 + 2’ axoneme that controls ciliary/flagellar motility, including sperm motility. Recent studies revealed that SPAG6 has functions beyond its role in the central apparatus. Hence, we reexamined the role of SPAG6 in male fertility. In wild-type mice, SPAG6 was present in cytoplasmic vesicles in spermatocytes, the acrosome of round and elongating spermatids and the manchette of elongating spermatids. Spag6-deficient testes showed abnormal spermatogenesis, with abnormalities in male germ cell morphology consistent with the multi-compartment pattern of SPAG6 localization. The armadillo repeat domain of mouse SPAG6 was used as a bait in a yeast two-hybrid screen, and several proteins with diverse functions appeared multiple times, including Snapin, SPINK2 and COPS5. Snapin has a similar localization to SPAG6 in male germ cells, and SPINK2, a key protein in acrosome biogenesis, was dramatically reduced in Spag6-deficient mice which have defective acrosomes. SPAG16L, another SPAG6-binding partner, lost its localization to the manchette in Spag6-deficient mice. Our findings demonstrate that SPAG6 is a multi-functional protein that not only regulates sperm motility, but also plays roles in spermatogenesis in multiple cellular compartments involving multiple protein partners.