Acoel spermatozoa: ultrastructure and immunocytochemistry of tubulin

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Acoel spermatozoa are filiform and contain two parallel axonemes, which do not show the trepaxonematan 9 + ‘1' pattern, but instead, another kind of 9 + ‘1' pattern, or a 9 + 0 or 9 + 2 pattern. Spermatozoa have either cortical singlet microtubules or central microtubules. Identification of these groups of microtubules and recognition of homologies between species is difficult with electron microscopy. In addition to conventional electron microscopy, indirect immunofluorescence of tubulin was performed on three species (Symsagittifera schultzei, Symsagittifera psammophila, and Actinoposthia beklemischevi). This technique facilitated understanding of the general morphology of the filiform spermatozoon and of the arrangement of the microtubular organelles along its length. We have found that different monoclonal antibodies (anti-alpha-, anti-alpha-acetylated- and anti-beta-tubulin) can distinguish distinct subcellular populations of microtubules. The axonemes were labelled by the three antibodies in all species. The cortical microtubules (in Actinoposthia beklemischevi) were labelled by the three antibodies. The central microtubules (in Symsagittifera schultzei and S. psammophila) were labelled with the anti-beta-tubulin antibody and not labelled by the anti-alpha- and anti-alpha-acetylated-tubulin. Similar experiments were performed on other Platyhelminthes and indicated that immunocytochemistry of spermatozoa may provide new characters for phylogenetic studies.

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