Serine/threonine protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) consists of four ubiquitously expressed major isoforms, two of which, PP1gamma1 and PP1gamma2, are derived by alternative splicing of a single gene, Ppp1cc. PP1gamma2 is the most abundant isoform in the testis, and is a key regulator of sperm motility. Targeted disruption of the Ppp1cc gene causes male infertility in mice due to impaired spermiogenesis. This study was undertaken to determine the expression patterns of specific PP1 isoforms in testes of wild-type mice and to establish how the defects produced in Ppp1cc-null developing sperm are related to the loss of PP1gamma isoform expression. We observed that PP1gamma2 was prominently expressed in the cytoplasm of secondary spermatocytes and round spermatids as well as in elongating spermatids and testicular and epididymal spermatozoa, whereas its expression was weak or absent in spermatogonia, pachytene spermatocytes, and interstitial cells. In contrast, a high level of PP1gamma1 expression was observed in interstitial cells, whereas much weaker expression was observed in all stages of spermatogenesis. Another PP1 isoform, PP1alpha, was predominant in spermatogonia, pachytene spermatocytes, and interstitial cells. Examining the temporal expression of PP1 enzymes in testes revealed a striking postnatal increase in PP1gamma2 levels compared with other isoforms. Testicular sperm tails from Ppp1cc-null mice showed malformed mitochondrial sheaths and extra outer dense fibers in both the middle and principal pieces. These data suggest that in addition to its previously documented role in motility, PP1gamma2 is involved in sperm tail morphogenesis.
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Vol. 76 • No. 6