Plasma membrane structure of bat spermatozoa: Observations on epididymal and uterine spermatozoa in Myotis lucifugus

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Abstract

Plasma membrane structure of bat spermatozoa was examined utilizing electron microscopy of thin sections and freeze-fracture replicas. Notable membrane features observed in replicas from cauda epididymal spermatozoa included specialized particle aggregates at the junction between the acrosomal and postacrosomal region of the head (a membrane structure not previously described in mammalian spermatozoa) and another row of rod-like particles just anterior to the posterior ring. Both of these specializations in fractured plasma membranes correspond with regions where the membrane is closely apposed to underlying structures when viewed in thin sections. The postacrosomal sheath appears to be composed of an array of longitudinally oriented filamentous components. Characteristic ordering of intramembranous particles was also noted in replicas from the midpiece region and the annulus. Major changes in plasma membrane structure were not seen in spermatozoa stored in the female reproductive tract; however, the appearance of linear particle aggregations in the principal piece membrane was noted. No evidence was obtained to suggest that an acrosome reaction had occurred in spermatozoa stored in females.

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