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Program in Molecular Medicine; Department of Cell and Developmental Biology

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Cell Biology


Drosophila sperm are unusual in that they do not require the intraflagellar transport (IFT) system for assembly of their flagella. In the mouse, the IFT proteins are very abundant in testis, but we here show that mature sperm are completely devoid of them, making the importance of IFT to mammalian sperm development unclear. To address this question, we characterized spermiogenesis and fertility in the Ift88(Tg737Rpw) mouse. This mouse has a hypomorphic mutation in the gene encoding the IFT88 subunit of the IFT particle. This mutation is highly disruptive to ciliary assembly in other organs. Ift88(-/-) mice are completely sterile. They produce approximately 350-fold fewer sperm than wild-type mice, and the remaining sperm completely lack or have very short flagella. The short flagella rarely have axonemes but assemble ectopic microtubules and outer dense fibers and accumulate improperly assembled fibrous sheath proteins. Thus IFT is essential for the formation but not the maintenance of mammalian sperm flagella.


cell motility

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Copyright © 2015 San Agustin et al. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). Two months after publication it is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License (

DOI of Published Version



Mol Biol Cell. 2015 Dec 1;26(24):4358-72. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E15-08-0578. Epub 2015 Sep 30. Link to article on publisher's site.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Molecular biology of the cell

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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