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2022 Publications

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05/16/22 | In situ cryo-electron tomography reveals the asymmetric architecture of mammalian sperm axonemes
Chen Z, Greenan GA, Shiozaki M, Liu Y, Skinner WM, Zhao X, Zhao S, Yan R, Guo C, Yu Z, Lishko PV, Agard DA, Vale RD
bioRxiv. 2022 May 16:. doi: 10.1101/2022.05.15.492011

The flagella of mammalian sperm display non-planar, asymmetric beating, in contrast to the planar, symmetric beating of flagella from sea urchin sperm and unicellular organisms. The molecular basis of this difference is unclear. Here, we perform in situ cryo-electron tomography of mouse and human sperm axonemes, providing the highest resolution structural information to date. Our subtomogram averages reveal mammalian sperm- specific protein complexes within the outer microtubule doublets, the radial spokes and nexin-dynein regulatory complexes. The locations and structures of these complexes suggest potential roles in enhancing the mechanical strength of mammalian sperm axonemes and regulating dynein-based axonemal bending. Intriguingly, we find that each of the nine outer microtubule doublets is decorated with a distinct combination of sperm- specific complexes. We propose that this asymmetric distribution of proteins differentially regulates the sliding of each microtubule doublet and may underlie the asymmetric beating of mammalian sperm.

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