Immunohistochemical localization of a water channel, aquaporin 7 (AQP7), in the rat testis
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Cell volume reduction is one of the most distinct morphological changes during spermiogenesis and may be largely attributable to water efflux from the cell. A strong candidate for a water efflux route, aquaporin 7 (AQP7), which is a water channel, was studied immunohistochemically in the rat testis. Immunoreactivity was restricted within the elongated spermatids, testicular spermatozoa, and residual bodies remaining in the seminiferous epithelium. Weak but distinct immunoreactivity was first observed in the cytoplasmic mass of the spermatid at step 8 of spermiogenesis. The Golgi-like apparatus became steadily immunoreactive at step 10. The plasma membrane covering the cytoplasmic mass showed strong immunoreactivity after step 16. At this step, the middle piece of the tail also showed immunoreactivity at the portion protruding into the lumen. The whole head and distal tail, where the elongated spermatid had only a limited amount of cytoplasm, showed no immunoreactivity throughout spermiogenesis. After spermiation, the immunoreactivity of AQP7 remained at the middle piece and in the cytoplasmic droplet in the testicular spermatozoon. The present observations suggest that AQP7 contributes to the volume reduction of spermatids, since this water channel protein is localized on the plasma membrane covering the condensing cytoplasmic mass of the elongated spermatid, and since the seminiferous tubule fluid is hypertonic.
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