We isolated the MC31 cDNA clone coding the antigen specifically recognized by the monoclonal antibody mMC31, and found that MC31 was identical to rat CE9. Therefore, this molecule is called MC31/CE9. MC31/CE9, a member of the immunoglobulin superfamily molecules, was localized on the rat sperm flagellar plasma membrane. We analyzed the expression and cellular localization of MC31/CE9 mRNA and protein in the adult rat testis by use of Northern hybridization, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemical analyses. In the course of spermatogenesis, MC31/CE9 mRNA first appeared in type B spermatogonia. The mRNA signal intensity increased progressively to pachytene spermatocytes and remained constantly at a considerable level throughout the subsequent phases of spermatocytes and round spermatids, and then decreased gradually from step-11 spermatids to disappear in step-15 spermatids. On the other hand, MC31/CE9 protein expression showed a bimodal pattern. Immunohistochemical analysis for the MC31/CE9 protein revealed its most intense immunoreactivity on the flagella of step-8 to step-19 elongated spermatids. The cytoplasmic immunoreactivity of the MC31/CE9 protein also appeared in preleptotene to early pachytene spermatocytes and elongated spermatids, with particularly intense immunoreactivity in the Golgi complexes of zygotene and early pachytene spermatocytes (stage XIII to III) as well as step-8 to step-13 spermatids. Between these two phases, the MC31/CE9 protein proved undetectable in the cytoplasm of any spermatogenic cells. Sertoli cells and Leydig cells were devoid of MC31/CE9 mRNA and its protein. Therefore, the production of MC31/CE9 is thought to be posttranscriptionally regulated during spermiogenesis.
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