Author(s): James PS, Wolfe CA, Ladha S, Jones R
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Abstract Maturation of spermatozoa in the epididymis involves remodelling of many protein and lipid components of the plasma membrane. In this investigation we have examined whether (a) diffusion of lipid molecules in the surface membrane changes during epididymal maturation; (b) diffusion is spatially restricted; and (c) differences in lipid diffusion can be related to known changes in membrane composition. For this purpose we have used the technique of fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) to measure diffusion of the lipid reporter probe ODAF (5-(octa-decanoyl)aminofluorescein) in spermatozoa from two species: ram, where substantial changes in membrane lipids occur during passage through the epididymis, and boar, where there are relatively few changes. Results on ram spermatozoa show that between the testis and cauda epididymidis, diffusion coefficients values (D) for ODAF increase significantly in all the surface domains. Percentage recovery values (\%R) remain constant irrespective of maturational status. In boar spermatozoa, however, D and \%R values do not change significantly between epididymal regions. Cholesterol, which has widespread effects on the behaviour of lipid molecules in cell membranes, was visualized by binding of filipin. In both species filipin was concentrated over the acrosomal domain and cytoplasmic droplet of testicular spermatozoa, but in the epididymis it had a heterogenous distribution over the whole head and tail. These results are discussed in relation to the establishment and maintenance of lipid domains in spermatozoa and their influence on development of fertilizing capacity.
This article was published in Mol Reprod Dev
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology