Males and hermaphrodites are the two naturally found sexual forms in the nematode C. elegans. The amoeboid sperm are produced by both males and hermaphrodites. In the earlier phase of gametogenesis the germ cells of hermaphrodites differentiate into limited number of sperm - around 300 - and are stored in a small 'bag' called the spermatheca. Later on hermaphrodites continually produce oocytes. In contrast males produce exclusively sperm throughout their adulthood. The males produce so much sperm that it accounts for >50% of the total cells in a typical adult worm. Therefore isolating sperm from males is easier than from that of hermaphrodites. Only a small proportion of males are naturally generated due to spontaneous non-disjunction of X chromosome. Crossing hermaphrodites with males or more conveniently the introduction of mutations to give rise to Him (High Incidence of Males) phenotype are some of strategies through which one can enrich the male population. Males can be easily distinguished from hermaphrodites by observing the tail morphology. Hermaphrodite's tail is pointed whereas male tail is rounded with mating structures. Cutting the tail releases vast number of spermatids stored inside the male reproductive tract. Dissection is performed under a stereo microscope using 27 gauge needles. Since spermatids are not physically connected with any other cells hydraulic pressure expels internal contents of male body including spermatids. Males are directly dissected on a small drop of 'Sperm Medium'. Spermatids are sensitive to alteration in the pH. Hence HEPES a compound with good buffering capacity is used in sperm media. Glucose and other salts present in sperm media help maintain osmotic pressure to maintain the integrity of sperm. Post-meiotic differentiation of spermatids into spermatozoa is termed spermiogenesis or sperm activation. Shakes and Nelson previously showed that round spermatids can be induced to differentiate into spermatozoa by adding various activating compounds including Pronase E. Here we demonstrate in vitro spermiogenesis of C. elegans spermatids using Pronase E. Successful spermiogenesis is pre-requisite for fertility and hence the mutants defective in spermiogenesis are sterile. Hitherto several mutants have been shown to be defective specifically in spermiogenesis process. Abnormality found during in vitro activation of novel Spe (Spermatogenesis defective) mutants would help us discover additional players participating in this event.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)