With indirect immunofluorescent microscopic techniques, we have shown that fibronectin is distributed primarily in or along the basal lamina of the seminiferous tubule boundary tissue in sections of testes from 20-day-old rats. Purified rat Sertoli cell-enriched aggregates, maintained in culture in the presence or absence of serum, exhibit no detectable immunofluorescence with fibronectin antibody, whereas purified peritubular cells in culture do have a positive reaction to fibronectin antibody. Peritubular cells in culture incorporate [35S] methionine into fibronectin which can be immunoprecipitated with a fibronectin antiserum, but Sertoli cells do not. We have used various criteria to estimate the degree of purity of Sertoli cell-enriched preparations. The presence of peritubular myoid cells in conventional Sertoli cell-enriched aggregates, cultured in the presence or absence of serum, can be detected with transmission electron microscopic examination, by the Feulgen staining procedure, and by the immunocytochemical identification of fibronectin. We describe a technique to purify Sertoli cells in conventional Sertoli cell-enriched preparations by treatment with hyaluronidase, resulting in a lesser number of peritubular cells by the above criteria, even in preparations cultured in the presence of serum. Data presented suggest that some of the products previously attributed exclusively to Sertoli cells in Sertoli cell-enriched preparations, particularly those cultured in the presence of serum, may have been contributed by peritubular cells.
The nature and functions of the chemical signals involved in the acquisition of competence to resume meiosis, and the maintenance of meiotic arrest in antral follicles are the subjects of this paper. Evidence indicating that gonadotropins are not required for the development of competence to undergo spontaneous maturation is discussed. However, gonadotropins may promote optimal conditions for oocyte development via an estrogen-dependent action on follicular cells. Evidence for the participation of cyclic AMP (cAMP), steroids and a putative maturation-inhibiting factor in the maintenance of meiotic arrest in mammalian oocytes is discussed. Cyclic AMP seems to play a critical role in the maintenance of meiotic arrest by actions in both granulosa/cumulus cells and oocytes. However, cAMP does not appear to equilibrate between cumulus cells and oocytes. In the granulosa/cumulus cells, cAMP may promote the generation/activation of a maturation-inhibiting factor which is transferred to the oocyte. Oocyte cAMP appears to be produced in the oocyte itself. The putative maturation-inhibiting factor may be maintained in an active form by a cAMP-dependent process in the oocyte. Alternatively, the putative maturation-inhibiting factor may play a role in maintaining oocyte cAMP levels. Some steroid hormones act synergistically with a cAMP-dependent process in the oocyte to maintain meiotic arrest. However, the physiological significance of this observation remains in question.
The pineal controls the reproductive response of ewes to both stimulatory (short) and inhibitory (long) day lengths. Melatonin, a pineal hormone whose nocturnal secretion is entrained by photoperiod, mediates the effect of stimulatory photoperiod. We now report that melatonin also mediates the effect of inhibitory day length, monitored as response to estradiol negative feedback on luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion. Ovariectomized, estradiol-implanted ewes were pinealectomized and intravenously infused with melatonin to restore the nightly melatonin rise. Following transfer from short to long days, and a concurrent switch from short- to long-day melatonin patterns, LH dropped precipitously in pinealectomized ewes, matching the photoinhibitory response of pineal intact controls. LH dropped similarly in pinealectomized ewes when long-day melatonin was infused under short days. Pinealectomized ewes transferred from long to short days displayed a marked LH rise, provided melatonin was also switched to the short-day pattern. LH remained suppressed if long-day melatonin was infused following transfer to short days. These data indicate the nighttime melatonin rise mediates reproductive responses to inhibitory, as well as stimulatory photoperiods; they further suggest the duration of this rise controls suppression of LH under long days. Rather than being strictly pro- or antigonadal, the pineal participates in measuring day length.
The human Sertoli cell population was characterized in 14 men by histometric analysis and by direct counts of nuclei in testicular homogenates. Testes obtained at autopsy were perfused with glutaraldehyde and embedded in Epon. Nucleolar and nuclear volumes were determined by the formula of a sphere given the diameter of the nucleoli or average diameter of nuclei measured at the height and width. Nuclear volume was also estimated by adding volumes of nuclear profiles in 0.5-micron serial sections. Sertoli cell number/g was calculated by the product of the percentage nucleoli or nuclei in the parenchyma, parenchymal volume, and histologic correction factor divided by the volume of a single nucleolus or nucleus. Also, Sertoli cell nuclei were counted directly in homogenates of fixed parenchyma. Number of Sertoli cells/g was similar (P greater than 0.05) whether determined by serial sections or in homogenates, but the estimate based on the nucleolar method was higher (P less than 0.01) and the nuclear measurement method was lower (P less than 0.01) than that for serial sections. A group of 37 men aged 20 to 48 yr had significantly (P less than 0.01) more Sertoli cells than did 34 men aged 50 to 85 yr. It is concluded that: 1) the homogenate method is valid for quantification of the Sertoli cell population, 2) Sertoli cells are evenly distributed in different regions of the testis, 3) the average human Sertoli cell supports relatively few germ cells, 4) the human Sertoli cell population declines with age, and 5) there is a significant relationship between sperm production rates and number of Sertoli cells.
We report here the purification, partial characterization and immunofluorescent localization of a dimeric acidic glycoprotein (DAG-protein) secreted by cultures of Sertoli cells of rat testes. Partially purified protein was obtained after chromatography over Sepharose 4B under conditions which favored a soluble, nonaggregated form of the protein. Rechromatography over the same column under reducing conditions yielded very pure monomers of 41,000 daltons and 29,000 daltons. Antibodies were prepared against the mixed monomers and used to immunoprecipitate proteins in spent medium from cultures incubated with [35S] methionine, 35SO4 = or tunicamycin. DAG-protein and another protein (Band 4, 70,000 daltons) were coprecipitated by the antiserum and all contained 35SO4 = in their structures. It was shown by Western blotting that the antiserum cross-reacted very weakly with Band 4 protein. The DAG-protein polypeptides secreted in the presence of tunicamycin were assumed to lack N-glycosylation and exhibited apparent molecular weights of 27,000 and 21,000 daltons. Immunoprecipitations of media from organ cultures of testis and epididymis yielded DAG-protein of slightly lower molecular weight than the protein secreted in Sertoli cell cultures. Indirect immunofluorescence of DAG-protein in paraffin sections of testis and epididymis revealed that the protein was concentrated in the cytoplasm of Sertoli cells, on the stereocilia of epididymal principal cells, in the cytoplasm of epididymal halo cells, and was associated with late spermatids and mature sperm. Sperm were specifically labeled on the acrosome, at the neck, and on the endpiece of the tail. No enzymatic or structural function has been ascribed to DAG-protein as yet, but the protein must play a pivotal role in spermatogenesis because it is secreted by both the testis and epididymis and becomes an integral component of sperm.
Specific monoclonal antibodies to granulosa and thecal cell surface antigens were produced and used to determine the contributions of theca and granulosa cells to the bovine corpus luteum (CL). Binding of each antibody was examined on collagenase-dispersed luteal cells from 18 cycling and 14 pregnant heifers by indirect immunofluorescence. The percent binding of the large luteal cells to granulosa antibody (GrAb) declined (P less than 0.01) as the age of the CL advanced: 77 +/- 6, 47.5 +/- 3, and 30 +/- 2 for Days 4-6, 10-12 and 16-18, respectively. Further reduction in binding of GrAb to large cells occurred between 50 and 100 days of pregnancy and no labeling was seen thereafter. Fourteen percent of the small luteal cells were bound by GrAb on Days 4-6 of the cycle, and none were labeled during subsequent stages. In contrast, when thecal antibody (TAb) was used, the proportions of large cells that were labeled increased (P less than 0.01) between Days 4-6 (10 +/- 1.3%) and 10-12 (46 +/- 3%). The percentage of large cells bound by TAb then remained unchanged until midpregnancy, declined as pregnancy advanced, and disappeared during late gestation. A majority of small luteal cells were bound by TAb throughout the estrous cycle: 70 +/- 4%, 69 +/- 3% and 58 +/- 6% at Days 4-6, 10-12, 16-18, respectively. Labeling of small cells by TAb occurred throughout pregnancy but declined (P less than 0.05) as gestation advanced. These studies suggest that the large cells of the early cyclic CL are derived from granulosa cells, while most of the small cells are of thecal origin. Small cells develop into large cells as the age of the CL increases. Granulosa-derived cells disappear during early pregnancy, while cells of thecal origin persist throughout pregnancy.
Endogenous androgens (androstenedione, testosterone, 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone and 5 alpha-androstane-3 alpha,17 beta-diol), and some of their C21 precursors (pregnenolone, progesterone and 17-hydroxyprogesterone) were measured in rat testes between Day 18.5 of pregnancy and Day 64 postpartum, and correlated with numerical densities of Leydig cells. The latter parameter showed an early maximum on Day 19.5 of the fetal period, a nadir on Day 15 postpartum, and a gradual increase thereafter. The two dominating androgens, testosterone and 5 alpha-androstane-3 alpha,17 beta-diol, had similar levels until 15 days of age, but the 5 alpha-diol predominated thereafter. The total steroid content per Leydig cell was highest on Day 18.5 of gestation (77 ng/10(6) cells). A decline started already in utero, and reached a nadir of 5 ng/10(6) cells on Day 29. Thereafter, a slight increase occurred with advancing age. It is concluded that: The fetal testis has highest Leydig cell and endogenous steroid concentrations. A nadir in these parameters is seen 2-4 wk postpartum. The Leydig cell concentration increases around puberty on Days 40-60, but only a slight concomitant increase occurs in steroids. A sharp decline in steroid content per Leydig cell occurs during the last fetal days, but the postnatal decline of testicular steroids is due to Leydig cell loss. The new Leydig cell generation after 15 days has a persistently low steroid concentration through puberty.
Although the testis is under overall control by pituitary gonadotropins, intratesticular control mechanisms are important 1) because of the unique structural organization of the testis, and 2) because of the organization and local requirements of spermatogenesis. The avascular nature of the seminiferous tubules, which comprise 90% of testicular mass in most mammals, means that their exceptionally high energy and nutritional demand has to be met by local transport in testicular interstitial fluid (IF). The rate of formation of IF is determined by capillary permeability and local control of this process is thus a prerequisite for ensuring full nutritional and hormonal support for spermatogenesis. The latter is organized into specific stages arranged in a cycle, each stage having different requirements which only local control mechanisms can ensure. In the rat, Stage VII of the spermatogenic cycle has an absolute requirement for high levels of testosterone and maintenance of such levels in the testicular IF surrounding the tubules thus constitutes a crucially important function requiring local control. Because in this situation, testosterone works via the Sertoli cell and because the testosterone is produced locally by the Leydig cells in response to luteinizing hormone (LH), it is suggested that local control of intratesticular levels of testosterone is likely to be effected by a factor (or factors) produced by the Sertoli cell which acts on the Leydig cell, and which interacts with LH to modulate the levels of testosterone in testicular IF. The possibility that "testicular luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH)" may fulfill this role is examined in detail by investigating the local effects of an LHRH agonist (LHRH-A) on testicular capillary permeability and the IF levels of testosterone in normal intact adult rats. The results show that LHRH-A has dose-dependent effects on capillary permeability and the IF levels of testosterone and that these effects are modulated according to the ambient level of LH. Alteration of the IF levels of testosterone by LHRH-A is shown to be biologically effective and to be mediated partly by direct effects on Leydig cell steroidogenesis and partly by the control of capillary permeability. The physiological implications and operation of this local mechanism are discussed.
Mouse spermatozoa released from the cauda epididymidis underwent spontaneous lipid peroxidation during aerobic incubation at 37 degrees C in medium containing 113 mM NaCl, 0.4 mM EDTA, and 15 mM sodium phosphate ( NTPC ). The rate of lipid peroxidation, as measured by malonaldehyde production, was 0.045 nmol malonaldehyde/h per 10(3) cells. The motility of these cells declined with time in medium NTPC ; the percent spermatozoa showing no motility increased linearly with production of malonaldehyde. All flagellar activity stopped at 0.80 nmol malonaldehyde/10(8) cells, independent of the malonaldehyde production rate. Spermatozoa suspended in NTPC at 24 degrees C produced O(2), with an intrinsic rate of 1.96 nmol/min per 10(8) cells; this increased to 3.80 nmol/min per 10(8) cells in 10 mM cyanide. Mouse sperm contain 3.5 U/10(8) cells of superoxide dismutase activity, 91% of which is sensitive, and 9% of which is insensitive, to cyanide inhibition. Mouse sperm also produce H2O2, all of which can be attributed to the action of superoxide dismutase on O(2) produced. Mouse sperm contain high levels of glutathione and of glutathione reductase and peroxidase activities, implicating the glutathione system as the major protective enzyme system against cell damage by autoxidation. This is in contrast to rabbit spermatozoa, which have little endogenous glutathione and rely on superoxide dismutase as protective enzyme against peroxidative damage.
Damage to the plasma membrane of rabbit epididymal spermatozoa during spontaneous lipid peroxidation was examined by means of trypan blue uptake and expression of activity of the intracellular enzymes, lactate dehydrogenase and pyruvate kinase. Both the dye uptake and the expression of enzyme activity probe cell damage from lipid peroxidation as loss of integrity of the plasma membrane. A linear correlation was obtained between trypan blue staining of the cells and malondialdehyde production, a quantifiable measure of the extent of lipid peroxidation. At the point of trypan blue staining of all cells, 0.5 nmol malondialdehyde/10(8) cells was produced. This is the same amount produced at the point of complete loss of motility and superoxide dismutase activity. We have defined this as the "lipoperoxidative lethal end point." Expression of lactate dehydrogenase and pyruvate kinase activities increased with time of aerobic incubation. In the high Na+ medium, NTP, in which lipid peroxidation is slow, there is a linear correlation between increase in expressed enzyme activities and malondialdehyde production. But in the high K+ medium, KTP, in which lipid peroxidation is rapid, there is an initial rapid rise in expressed enzyme activity over 3 h, followed by a slower increase. Activities of rabbit sperm lactate dehydrogenase, pyruvate kinase, and flagellar ATPase were unaffected by aerobic incubations for up to 48 h, double the incubation period used for the assay of enzymatic activities for the first two. The activity of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase decreased during aerobic incubation, the time course matching the loss of motility. The subcellular distribution of lactate dehydrogenase in rabbit spermatozoa was determined: 4% in the mitochondrial matrix, 10% in the plasma membrane and 85% in the cytosolic compartment.
The of onset of acyclicity and the duration of persistent vaginal cornification (PVC), the predominant postcyclic anovulatory condition, were measured in five cohorts of virgin mice staggered across a 6-yr interval. The average age of cessation of cyclicity varied significantly among cohorts, ranging from 11 to 16 mo of age. Seventy-five percent of the mice entered PVC after ceasing to cycle, the remainder entered directly into a persistent diestrous condition. The duration of PVC, which averaged between 2 and 4 mo, varied markedly among individuals and was inversely related to the age of onset of acyclicity. Consequently, the variance associated with the cessation of cyclicity was about 4-fold greater than that associated with the cessation of PVC. These differing variances suggest that the factors governing ovulatory failure and PVC cessation may differ.
Previous studies (Carr and Acott , 1984) indicate that bovine sperm are maintained in a quiescent state in the caudal epididymis (CE) by a pH-dependent inhibitory factor. Here, we have determined that the pH of bovine CE fluid and of CE semen is approximately 5.8, and that the motility of CE sperm in undiluted CE fluid increases as the pH is elevated. Therefore, the acidity of CE fluid may play a physiological role in the maintenance of sperm quiescence. The changes in sperm motility, in response to changes in the pH of CE fluid, are reversible and rapid. Dilution of CE fluid with buffers at either pH 5.5 or 7.6 produces a much slower initiation of motility. In buffer a significantly lower pH is required to inhibit sperm motility than is required in CE fluid. The apparent pKs for inhibition are 5.3 in buffer and 6.6 in CE fluid. However, the motility of sperm in buffers that contain lactate, shows a pH dependence similar to sperm in CE fluid. That is, lactate inactivates sperm in buffer at pH 5.5 but not at pH 7.6. Lactate, and several other permeant weak acids, have previously been shown to reduce the intracellular pH of bovine sperm and many other types of cells. We show that these permeant weak acids, but not impermeant weak acids, reversibly reduce CE sperm motility in buffer at pH 5.5 but not at pH 7.6. Weak bases, which have previously been shown to elevate intracellular pH, initiate sperm motility in CE fluid. These results suggest that intracellular pH can regulate CE sperm motility and may be the intracellular messenger for the pH-dependent quiescence factor. Although sperm cyclic AMP levels have been previously correlated with motility stimulation, cyclic AMP levels do not change when the pH of CE fluid is elevated, even though full motility is initiated.
In vivo and in vitro studies were conducted to determine the contribution of the bovine uterus to concentrations of 15-keto-13,14-dihydro-prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGFM) in peripheral plasma of postpartum cows. In Experiment 1, cows were assigned to three groups: untreated control (n = 4), hysterectomy following a manually induced prolapse of the uterus (n = 5) and sham operation (n = 3: prolapse of the uterus and replacement). Surgery was performed within 8 h of parturition, and blood samples collected frequently on the day of surgery and once (0800 h) or twice (0800 and 1700 h) daily from Day 1 to Day 15 postpartum. Following hysterectomy, PGFM concentrations decreased precipitously, became essentially undetectable by 5 h, and remained so for the rest of the experimental period. In contrast (P less than 0.01), PGFM concentrations, which remained elevated during the day of surgery in the sham-operated group, peaked on Day 2 (sham-operated group: 1339 pg/ml) or Day 3 (untreated control: 2143 pg/ml), and declined to a basal concentration between Days 10 to 15. In Experiment 2, in vitro metabolism of tritiated arachidonic acid ([3H] AA: 10 microCi) and production of PGF2 alpha and PGFM were studied in explants of early postpartum intrauterine tissues (myometrium, caruncle and intercaruncular endometrium). Extracts of [3H] AA metabolites released into the incubation medium were separated on Sephadex LH-20 column chromatography. Metabolites of [3H] AA, having the same chromatographic mobility as PGF2 alpha, PGFM and PGE2, were detected.
Experiments were conducted to examine the pulsatile nature of biologically active luteinizing hormone (LH) and progesterone secretion during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle in rhesus monkeys. As the luteal phase progressed, the pulse frequency of LH release decreased dramatically from a high of one pulse every 90 min during the early luteal phase to a low of one pulse every 7-8 h during the late luteal phase. As the pulse frequency decreased, there was a corresponding increase in pulse amplitude. During the early luteal phase, progesterone secretion was not episodic and there were increments in LH that were not associated with elevations in progesterone. However, during the mid-late luteal phase, progesterone was secreted in a pulsatile fashion. During the midluteal phase (Days 6-7 post-LH surge), 67% of the LH pulses were associated with progesterone pulses, and by the late luteal phase (Days 10-11 post-LH surge), every LH pulse was accompanied by a dramatic and sustained release of progesterone. During the late luteal phase, when the LH profile was characterized by low-frequency, high-amplitude pulses, progesterone levels often rose from less than 1 ng/ml to greater than 9 ng/ml and returned to baseline within a 3-h period. Thus, a single daily progesterone determination is unlikely to be an accurate indicator of luteal function. These results suggest that the changing pattern of mean LH concentrations during the luteal phase occurs as a result of changes in frequency and amplitude of LH release. These changes in the pulsatile pattern of LH secretion appear to have profound effects on secretion of progesterone by the corpus luteum, especially during the mid-late luteal phase when the patterns of LH concentrations are correlated with those of progesterone.
The ambient photoperiod was recorded over an 8-yr period at the beginning and end of the breeding season in a flock of Suffolk ewes maintained outdoors. The transition into the breeding season in this short-day breeder occurred at a day length which was much longer (14.0 h, Sept. 3 +/- 5 days) than that at the onset of anestrus (11.5 h, Feb. 15 +/- 3 days). This produced a marked asymmetry of the annual cycles of photoperiod and reproduction. In an attempt to explain this asymmetry, we determined if ewes enter anestrus because increasing day lengths curtail breeding or because ewes lose the ability to respond to prevailing short day lengths (i.e., become photorefractory). On the winter solstice, 3 groups of 6 ovariectomized ewes bearing s.c. Silastic implants of estradiol were placed on different day length treatments: 1) natural environment; 2) artificial day length which simulated natural photoperiod; or 3) artificial day length equivalent to that of the winter solstice (10L). Transition into anestrus was determined from the precipitous drop in serum luteininzing hormone (LH) concentrations. The breeding season was not prolonged in ewes held on the winter solstice day length; LH did not remain elevated beyond the time that it plummeted in the other groups. These findings lead to the conclusion that Suffolk ewes normally cease breeding, not because they are actively inhibited by increasing day lengths, but because they become photorefractory. This can account, at least in part, for the asymmetry between the annual cycle of photoperiod and reproduction in this short-day breeder.
The hypothesis that luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion in prepubertal females is responsive to estradiol negative feedback and that decreased feedback occurs as puberty approaches was tested in heifers. In the first experiment, seven heifers were maintained prepubertal by dietary energy restriction until 508 days of age (Day 0). All heifers were placed on a high-energy diet on Day 0 at which time they received no additional treatment (CONT), were ovariectomized (OVX) or were ovariectomized and subcutaneously implanted with estradiol-17 beta (OVX-E2). This feeding regimen was used to synchronize reproductive state in all heifers. A second experiment was performed with 16 prepubertal heifers using the same treatments at 266 days (Day 0) of age (CONT, OVX and OVX-E2) but no dietary intake manipulation. In both experiments, LH secretion increased rapidly following ovariectomy in OVX heifers. In the initial experiment, LH secretion was maintained at a low level in OVX-E2 heifers until a synchronous rapid increase was noted coincidental with puberty in the CONT heifer. In the second experiment, LH secretion increased gradually in OVX-E2 heifers and attained castrate levels coincidental with puberty in CONT heifers. A gradual increase in LH secretion occurred as puberty approached in CONT heifers. These results indicate that: a) LH secretion in prepubertal heifers is responsive to estradiol negative feedback; and b) estradiol negative feedback decreases during the prepubertal period in beef heifers.
Rates of growth and sexual maturation of microtine rodents vary in response to photoperiod. Previous work with Microtus montanus has shown that the photoperiod present prior to weaning influences how voles will respond to photoperiods seen following weaning. The data presented demonstrate that information about the photoperiod seen by the mother during pregnancy influences the postweaning development of male M. montanus. Adult M. montanus were paired in photoperiods consisting of 8, 14 or 16 h light/day. Their litters were conceived and born in these photoperiods. On the day of birth the litters were recorded and retained in the gestation photoperiod (Groups C8, C14 and C16) or transferred to the 14-h photoperiod (Groups E8 and E16). The growth of males was followed from weaning until 74 days of age, at which time the voles were sacrificed and their reproductive organs weighed. There were no differences in body weight or length between groups at 18 days of age. At 74 days of age the development of the voles could be ranked in the following sequence: C8 less than E16 less than C14 less than E8 less than C16.
We describe procedures for the preparation of a cell-free seminiferous tubule biomatrix, and provide evidence demonstrating that this material constitutes a useful substratum for maintaining the normal architecture of Sertoli cells in primary culture. Seminiferous tubule biomatrix, which has the morphological appearance of a fibrillar network rich in filaments and amorphous substance, is shown to consist of about 50% protein, most of which is collagen and glycoproteins. Fibronectin and laminin are also present in the seminiferous tubule biomatrix, as judged by immunofluorescence microscopy. Sertoli cell aggregates plated on this substratum retain a cuboidal to columnar shape, spread very slowly to form a monolayer, and survive for at least 3 weeks when cultured in a hormone-free, serum-free, chemically defined medium. In contrast, Sertoli cells plated onto uncoated polystyrene readily spread to form a monolayer of flat squamous cells which do not survive as well. Other morphological and ultrastructural characteristics are described which indicate that cells cultured on the seminiferous tubule biomatrix more closely resemble those of Sertoli cells in vivo than do cells plated on uncoated plastic. These differences in cell structure, including the maintenance of normal polarity as indicated by the presence of basolateral tight junctional complexes, remain evident for periods of 10 to 14 days after plating Sertoli cells onto biomatrix substratum. Rates of DNA synthesis by immature Sertoli cells plated onto biomatrix are less than rates by cells plated onto uncoated plastic. The data are discussed in relation to the role of substratum in the preservation of normal functions and histotype of Sertoli cells.
The secretion of plasminogen activator (PA) has been found to be highly stage-specific during rat spermatogenesis. It is maximal in Stages VII and VIII of the cycle. At these stages, seminiferous tubules contain primitive type A1 spermatogonia, preleptotene and midpachytene primary spermatocytes, round and maturation-phase spermatids and Sertoli cells. The last cell types are the most likely sources of PA. To investigate which cell type might be involved in the regulation of PA secretion, we have sequentially isolated 1-mm segments of rat seminiferous tubules from Stages VI-IX with transillumination-assisted microdissection and measured PA secretion using 125I-labeled fibrinogen as substrate. In another experiment, spermatogenia were killed by 300 rads of x-rays and PA secretion was analyzed during the absence of desired germ cell classes. The results support the idea that upon their detachment from the basal lamina, preleptotene-stage primary spermatocytes have the major stimulatory action on the PA secretion of the seminiferous tubules. Other phenomena such as spermiation, phagocytosis of residual bodies or opening up of the Sertoli cell junctions seem to influence PA secretion to a lesser extent.
Biochemical and antigenic similarities exist among members of what can be considered a family of low molecular weight rabbit sperm autoantigens. These autoantigens are intrinsic plasma membrane glycoproteins specific to spermatogenic cells and spermatozoa. The amino acid and carbohydrate compositions of rabbit sperm autoantigen-1 (RSA-1) and RSA-2 were compared and monoclonal antibodies (mAb) were raised in mice against rabbit sperm autoantigens. The epitopes recognized by the antibodies were present on RSA-1, 2 and 3. A monoclonal anti-RSA-1, 2 and 3 (designated A.F. 1) was used to localize the antigen on spermatozoa and testis cells and investigate the epitope's tissue specificity. This mAb inhibited in vitro fertilization but did not block the sperm from dispersing the cumulus cells surrounding the egg. The mAb also demonstrated the presence of RSA-1, 2 and 3 on the plasma membrane of the egg after fertilization. It is concluded that the RSA family plays a central role in zona penetration.