The cytoplasmic droplet of epididymal spermatozoa is a small localized outpouching of cytoplasm of the tail of unknown significance. EM revealed flattened saccular elements as the near exclusive membranous component of the droplet. Light and electron microscopic immunolabeling for Golgi/TGN markers showed these saccules to be reactive for antibodies to TGN38, protein affinity-purified alpha 2,6 sialyltransferase, and anti-human beta 1,4 galactosyltransferase. The saccules were isolated by subcellular fractionation and antibodies raised against this fraction immunolabeled the saccules of the droplet in situ as well as the Golgi region of somatic epithelial cells lining the epididymis. The isolated droplet fraction was enriched in galactosyltransferase and sialyltransferase activities, and endogenous glycosylation assays identified the modification of several endogenous glycopeptides. EM lectin staining in situ demonstrated galactose and N-acetyl galactosamine constituents in the saccules. Endocytic studies with cationic and anionic ferritin as well as HRP failed to identify the saccules as components of the endocytic apparatus. Epididymal spermatozoa were devoid of markers for the ER as well as the Golgi-associated coatamer protein beta-COP. It is therefore unlikely that the saccular elements of the droplet participate in vesicular protein transport. However, the identification of Golgi/TGN glycosylating activities in the saccules may be related to plasma membrane modifications which occur during epididymal sperm maturation.

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