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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Morphological and Histochemical Characterization of the Seminiferous Epithelial and Leydig Cells of the Turkey.

Authors
item Bakst, Murray
item Akuffo, Valorie
item Trefil, P - BIOPHARM
item Brillard, J - INRA

Submitted to: Animal Reproduction Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 10, 2006
Publication Date: February 20, 2007
Citation: Bakst, M.R., Akuffo, V.G., Trefil, P., Brillard, J.P. 2007. Morphological and histochemical characterization of the seminiferous epithelial and leydig cells of the turkey. Animal Reproduction Sciences. 97:303-313.

Interpretive Summary: Unlike mammals, there is little fundamental information about spermatogenesis in birds. This study was undertaken to help us better understand sperm production in the turkey testes and to establish morphological, biochemical and molecular markers to highlight specific cell type in the testes. Pre-pubertal (8- to I5-wk old) and adult (40-to 44-wk old) domestic turkeys were used. We were particularly interested in identifying the stem cell in the testes seminiferous epithelium, the actual site of spermatogenesis. We found that the molecular marker c-kit and the lectin PNA binds specifically to spermatogonia in both pre-pubertal and adult male testes. Based on its sparse occurrence, its morphology (small and dark staining), and its close association with the seminiferous tubule basement membrane, we postulate that the sub-type Ad spermatogonia may be the spermatogonial stem cells in the turkey testes. Wheat-germ agglutinin (WGA) highlighted Sertoli cells in both age groups. It was concluded that c-kit, WGA and PNA could aid in identifying specific cell types in the seminiferous epithelium of testis from pre-pubertal and mature turkeys. The information from this study is being used to adapt techniques for the isolation and partial purification developed for mammalian spermatogonia to avian spermatogonia and other specific cell types in the testes.

Technical Abstract: Unlike mammals, there is little fundamental information about spermatogenesis in birds. This study was undertaken to clarify the morphology, histochemistry, and lectin affinity of the seminiferous epithelial cells and Leydig cells in the pre-pubertal (8- to I5-wk old) and adult (40-to 44-wk old) domestic turkey. In adult turkeys, three types of spermatogonia were defined based on their chromatin distribution and nuclear morphology: the dark type A (Ad); the pale type A (Ap); and the type B. The Ad is the least numerous and least conspicuous and consequently difficult to locate. Based on its spatial distribution and overall morphology, type Ad spermatogonia were postulated to be the spermatogonia stem cells in the turkey. Antibodies to c-kit were localized to spermatogonia in the pre-pubertal and to a lesser extent in adult males. Peanut agglutinin (PNA) was specific for spermatocytes in the pre-pubertal males and spermatogonia and early spermatocytes in adult males. Wheat-germ agglutinin (WGA) highlighted Sertoli cells in both age groups. Bandeiraea simplicifolia I, soybean agglutinin, and winged-pea agglutinin staining were limited to the wall of the seminiferous tubule and some extra-tubular cell types. Con A staining was diffuse and not cell-specific and, therefore, could not be used to selectively identify a particular cell type. It was concluded that WGA and PNA could aid in identifying specific cell types in the seminiferous epithelium of testis from pre-pubertal and mature turkeys. Only Leydig cells were alkaline phosphatase reactive in the mature turkey testes. The information from this study is being used to adapt techniques for the isolation and partial purification developed for mammalian spermatogonia to avian spermatogonia and other specific cell types in the testes.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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