Actin binding proteins, spermatid transport and spermiation

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



The transport of germ cells across the seminiferous epithelium is composed of a series of cellular events during the epithelial cycle essential to the completion of spermatogenesis. Without the timely transport of spermatids during spermiogenesis, spermatozoa that are transformed from step 19 spermatids in the rat testis fail to reach the luminal edge of the apical compartment and enter the tubule lumen at spermiation, thereby arriving the epididymis for further maturation. Step 19 spermatids and/or sperms that remain in the epithelium beyond stage VIII of the epithelial cycle will be removed by the Sertoli cell via phagocytosis to form phagosomes and be degraded by lysosomes, leading to subfertility and/or infertility. However, the biology of spermatid transport, in particular the final events that lead to spermiation remain elusive. Based on recent data in the field, we critically evaluate the biology of spermiation herein by focusing on the actin binding proteins (ABPs) that regulate the organization of actin microfilaments at the Sertoli–spermatid interface, which is crucial for spermatid transport during this event. The hypothesis we put forth herein also highlights some specific areas of research that can be pursued by investigators in the years to come.