The sperm head of the plains rat, an Australian hydromyine rodent, is highly complex in structure and contains, in addition to an apical hook, two large ventral processes (VPs) that extend from its upper concave surface and that are largely composed of a huge extension of the sperm head cytoskeleton surrounded by postacrosomal dense lamina. In this study we have attempted to determine their protein composition. For this, the VPs were isolated, the proteins within them separated by SDS-PAGE, and the resultant polypeptide bands Western blotted and probed with antibodies against laboratory rat perforatorial and bull perinuclear theca sperm proteins. Antibodies were also used to determine the perforatorial and perinuclear theca proteins by immunogold labeling of transmission electron microscopic sections. The results indicate that the material within the VPs is largely composed of perforatorial cross-reacting proteins together with F-actin with the dominant protein being PERF 15. The perinuclear theca proteins are, by contrast, restricted to a narrow region adjacent to the acrosomal and nuclear membranes. In conclusion, this study has shown that the VPs of the spermatozoa of Australian rodents are perforatorial-like appendages that contain similar proteins to the perforatorium of the apical hook together with F-actin; their functional significance remains unknown.
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