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Alteration of cytochrome C oxidase activity during spermatogenesis in Carcinus maenas

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Summary

During spermatogenesis in the crab, Carcinus maenas, mitochondria in the developing spermatids degenerate. In close association with mitochondrial fragments in late spermatids, an elaborate lattice-like complex of fused membranes is formed and lies in a position adjacent to the acrosome. Mature sperm possess no mitochondria, but a whorl of membranes is present alongside the acrosome in the diffuse nucleus.

To ascertain whether or not cytochrome c oxidase activity is lost as the mitochondria disintegrate, differentiating Carcinus maenas spermatids and mature sperm have been studied cytochemically. Cytochrome c oxidase activity was localised by means of the osmophilic compound 3,3′-diaminobenzidine (DAB).

Cytochrome c oxidase activity is confined to the cristae of mitochondria in the testis. As spermatids mature most mitochondria are lost. A few mitochondrial fragments may be caught up within the lamellar complex. While they are recognisable as mitochondria they retain cytochrome c oxidase activity. The lamellar complex does not show this enzyme activity. These results therefore suggest that the mature sperm of Carcinus maenas do not contain the enzymes normally incorporated in the mitochondrial membrane, capable of oxidative phosphorylation.

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Correspondence to Dr. Muriel H. Walker.

Additional information

We should like to thank Mrs. Carol Orme for technical assistance.

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Pearson, P.J., Walker, M.H. Alteration of cytochrome C oxidase activity during spermatogenesis in Carcinus maenas . Cell Tissue Res. 164, 401–410 (1975). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00223017

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Key Words

  • Sperm
  • Cytochrome c oxidase
  • Decapod