Human spermatozoa with normal structure and with different axonemal deficiencies (absence of axoneme, of arms, or of central structures) were studied by electron microscopy, SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and ATPase activity measurements. Normal human sperm possess a complement of high molecular weight polypeptides with an electrophoretic migration similar to that of sea urchin and other mammalian sperm dyneins. Human high molecular weight bands are numbered one to four in order of increasing of electrophoretic mobility; all of them are absent in spermatozoa that lack axoneme. The absence of doublet arms, coincides with the absence of bands 2, 3, and 4; the absence of central structures coincides with a reduction in intensity of band 2. In the latter two abnormal conditions, band 1 has an increased intensity. The data are tentatively interpreted by attributing the polypeptides forming bands 3 and 4 to the arm structure, whereas band 2 is supposed to contain a mixture of polypeptides localized in the arms and in the central structures; these abnormal sperm contain modified polypeptides which gather in band 1. Histochemical ATPase stainings indicate that this enzyme is localized mainly in the doublet arms and, to a minor extent, in the central structures.

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