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Keywords:

  • sperm;
  • epididymis;
  • gamete biology;
  • sperm maturation;
  • sperm rosette

Abstract

In many mammals, sperm associations had been observed, but not in the mouse. In this work, mouse sperm rosettes are morphologically described inside the epididymis and during its dissolution in a culture medium. Also characterized are the saccharides present in the linking material. Sperm association and other epididymal actions are supported by sperm during epididymal transit and are verified at the caudal region, suggesting a relation between epididymal transit and sperm maturation. In drops of epididymal content obtained from distal (cauda), but not from proximal (caput and corpus) regions; dissolved in culture medium, rosettes appear to be 10 to 15 motile sperm joined by their heads. After 3 min, sperm progressively detach, disassembling the rosette. These structures are studied by several techniques, including optic, electronic (scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy), and video microscopy. At the ultrastructural level, a dense network of electron-dense material was observed between sperm heads, joining them. Based on previous works in rat, several lectins were used to characterize the type of saccharides present in this linking material. To avoid the contact between sperm and epididymal fluid from distal region—that probably exerts an influence on sperm association—a ligature was placed between caput and corpus. This epididymal content isolated from caput did not display any rosettes after 28 days. Anat Rec, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.