Development of mitochondrial helical sheath in the middle piece of the mouse spermatid tail: regular dispositions and synchronized changes

Anat Rec. 1988 Sep;222(1):26-33. doi: 10.1002/ar.1092220106.


Morphologic changes in the development of the mitochondrial helical sheath in the mouse spermatid tail were examined with the scanning electron microscope (SEM) using the osmium-DMSO-osmium method and classified into several stages. During late spermiogenesis, spherical mitochondria gathered around the forming spermatid tail. The shape of these mitochondria gradually changed from spheroid to long and rod-like. Mitochondria first were arranged in four longitudinal rows (stage 1) that twisted dextrally, and the mitochondria began to stagger (stage 2). They became elongated and arranged into a staggered pattern; they then attached to each other in an end-to-end fashion to form a sinistral double helix around the core of the axoneme (stage 3). These end-to-end contacts were observed in every second gyre on the four lines surrounding the core of the axoneme at stage 3. Mitochondria further elongated and end-on touching appeared with every third gyre on the five longitudinal lines that surround the core of the axoneme (stage 4). The direction of the helix, always sinistral, was clearly discernible only in the later stages. Disposition of the mitochondria in the spermatid tail was regular throughout development, which indicates that these mitochondria elongate simultaneously and also at the same rate. On any given cracked surface of the seminiferous tubule, spermatid tails with the same stage of mitochondria predominantly were observed. This ultrastructural finding appears compatible with the histologic synchronism, (termed the "wave") in differentiating germ cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice / anatomy & histology
  • Mice / growth & development*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Sperm Tail / growth & development*
  • Sperm Tail / ultrastructure
  • Spermatozoa / growth & development*
  • Time Factors