Sperm of the wasted mutant are wasted when females utilize the stored sperm in Drosophila melanogaster

Ohsako, Takashi; Yamamoto, Masa-Toshi; Sawamura, Kyoichi
April 2011
Genes & Genetic Systems;2011, Vol. 86 Issue 2, p97
Academic Journal
Females of many animal species store sperm after copulation for use in fertilization, but the mechanisms controlling sperm storage and utilization are largely unknown. Here we describe a novel male sterile mutation of Drosophila melanogaster, wasted (wst), which shows defects in various processes of sperm utilization. The sperm of wst mutant males are stored like those of wild-type males in the female sperm storage organs, the spermathecae and seminal receptacles, after copulation and are released at each ovulation. However, an average of thirteen times more wst sperm than wild type sperm are released at each ovulation, resulting in rapid loss of sperm stored in seminal receptacles within a few days after copulation. wst sperm can enter eggs efficiently at 5 hr after copulation, but the efficiency of sperm entry decreases significantly by 24 hr after copulation, suggesting that wst sperm lose their ability to enter eggs during storage. Furthermore, wst sperm fail to undergo nuclear decondensation, which prevents the process of fertilization even when sperm enter eggs. Our results indicate that the wst gene is essential for independent processes in the utilization of stored sperm; namely, regulation of sperm release from female storage organs, maintenance of sperm efficiency for entry into eggs, and formation of the male pronucleus in the egg at fertilization.


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