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Spermatogenesis and the role of Sertoli cells in the freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata

Summary

The various stages of spermatogenesis and the Sertoli cells of Biomphalaria glabrata were studied with histochemical and electron microscope techniques.

During spermatogenesis a manchette of microtubules is formed around the nucleus and the mid-piece of the spermatids. This manchette becomes helically coiled and probably plays an important role in the spiralisation of the nucleus and of the mitochondrial sheath. During spermatogenesis so-called chromatoid bodies (CB) occur, which consist of arginine-rich proteins. These CB disintegrate during the early spermatid stage. The results suggest that the CB are either involved in histone transition or in the formation of microtubules. The remaining cytoplasm of the spermatids is phagocytised by the Sertoli cells. Apparently this process of phagocytosis is an important part of the mechanism of spermiation.

Morphological measurements of the Sertoli cells showed that the relative volume of most organelles decrease during spermatogenesis, indicating a general decrease in cell activity. Possible functions of the Sertoli cells, such as transportation and nutrition of spermatogenic cells and hormone production, are discussed. It is concluded on the basis of the histochemical and ultrastructural observations that the Sertoli cells are involved in the nutrition of spermatogenic cells. It seems unlikely that they are hormone producing cells.

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Correspondence to Dr. Marijke de Jong-Brink.

Additional information

The authors are greatly indebted to Prof. Dr. J. Lever and Prof. Dr. J. Joosse for reading the manuscript; to Mrs. M.J.M. Bergamin-Sassen for technical assistance; to Dr. R. van der Hurk (University of Utrecht) for performing the reactions for steroidogenic enzymes; to Mr. R.P. Heyman, Mr. A.W.J. van Leyen and Mr. N.J.C. van Ormondt for cooperation in performing the morphometrical measurements; to Dr. J.C. de Jager and Mrs. N. Middelburg-Frielink for statistical advice; to Mr. G.W.H. van den Berg for drawing the figures; to Miss B.E.C. Plesch for correcting the English text, and to Mrs. P.F.M. Ohr-Bulder for typing the manuscript

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de Jong-Brink, M., Boer, H.H., Hommes, T.G. et al. Spermatogenesis and the role of Sertoli cells in the freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata . Cell Tissue Res. 181, 37–58 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00222773

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Key words

  • Spermatogenesis
  • Biomphalaria glabrata
  • Chromatoid body
  • Spermiation
  • Sertoli cells