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Unusual features of the neck and middle-piece of snake spermatozoa

Journal of Ultrastructure Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0022-5320(68)80033-4


In the course of an investigation on reptilian spermiogenesis, we have observed in the sperm of the king snake, Lampropeltis getulus, and the boa, Constrictor constrictor, a nonmitochondrial component of the middle-piece sheath that has not been reported heretofore. This component consists of conspicuous plaques of dense material interspersed among the mitochondria and spaced at irregular intervals along the length of the middle-piece. The plaques, along with the neck cylinder described earlier by Austin ( 1), are unique to snake sperm and it will be shown that both have a common origin from the coalescence of material first deposited in dense spherical granules in close topographical relationship to the ends of mitochondria that gather around the distal centriole and base of the tail at a late stage of spermiogenesis. The function of both the plaques and the neck cylinder in mature sperm is not clear, but possible functional implications will be discussed in light of homologies between snake sperm and mammalian sperm.

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