A massive new posttranslational modification occurs on axonemal tubulin at the final step of spermatogenesis in Drosophila

Eur J Cell Biol. 1995 Aug;67(4):346-55.


Using two antibodies raised against Paramecium axonemal tubulin, a monoclonal antibody, AXO 49 (Callen et al., Biol. Cell 81, 95-119 (1994)), and a polyclonal antibody, PAT (Cohen et al., Biol. Cell 44, 35-44 (1982)), which have been shown elsewhere to detect a new posttranslational modification of tubulin presumably corresponding to polyglycylation, we have analyzed the occurrence of this modification during spermatogenesis in Drosophila. Results obtained by immunofluorescence on cysts isolated by laceration of testes showed that the antibodies reacted on axonemal microtubules of several species within the genus. Observation of different stages of differentiation of D. obscura sperm cells indicated, first, that the epitopes reactive with both antibodies appeared at late stages, and secondly, that they were detected simultaneously along all axonemes within a cyst. Immunofluorescence on semithin sections and electron microscopic immunocytochemistry on ultrathin sections confirmed that the appearance of the epitope recognized by the monoclonal antibody occurred at the time of the individualization process of spermatids in D. melanogaster. These results indicate that the posttranslational modification occurs as a very late event, after complete assembly of axonemal microtubules, and that the axonemal tubulin becomes modified when axonemal microtubules become coupled with the membrane, suggesting that the modification may in some way be induced by the microtubule-membrane interaction.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Spermatogenesis / physiology*
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Testis / ultrastructure
  • Tubulin / metabolism*


  • Tubulin