The LINC complex component Sun4 plays a crucial role in sperm head formation and fertility

Biol Open. 2015 Nov 30;4(12):1792-802. doi: 10.1242/bio.015768.


LINC complexes are evolutionarily conserved nuclear envelope bridges, physically connecting the nucleus to the peripheral cytoskeleton. They are pivotal for dynamic cellular and developmental processes, like nuclear migration, anchoring and positioning, meiotic chromosome movements and maintenance of cell polarity and nuclear shape. Active nuclear reshaping is a hallmark of mammalian sperm development and, by transducing cytoskeletal forces to the nuclear envelope, LINC complexes could be vital for sperm head formation as well. We here analyzed in detail the behavior and function of Sun4, a bona fide testis-specific LINC component. We demonstrate that Sun4 is solely expressed in spermatids and there localizes to the posterior nuclear envelope, likely interacting with Sun3/Nesprin1 LINC components. Our study revealed that Sun4 deficiency severely impacts the nucleocytoplasmic junction, leads to mislocalization of other LINC components and interferes with the formation of the microtubule manchette, which finally culminates in a globozoospermia-like phenotype. Together, our study provides direct evidence for a critical role of LINC complexes in mammalian sperm head formation and male fertility.

Keywords: LINC complex; Nuclear envelope; SUN domain proteins; Sperm head formation; Spermiogenesis.