Spermatogenesis

Spermatogenesis is the process by which male spermatogonia develop into mature spermatozoa. Spermatozoa are the mature male gametes in many sexually reproducing organisms. Thus, spermatogenesis is the male version of gametogenesis. In mammals it occurs in the male testes and epididymis in a stepwise fashion, and for humans takes approximately 64 days.Spermatogenesis is highly dependent upon optimal conditions for the process to occur correctly, and is essential for sexual reproduction. It starts at puberty and usually continues uninterrupted until death, although a slight decrease can be discerned in the quantity of produced sperm with increase in age. The entire process can be broken up into several distinct stages, each corresponding to a particular type of cell:



Purpose

Spermatogenesis produces mature male gametes, commonly called sperm but specifically known as spermatozoa, which are able to fertilize the counterpart female gamete, the oocyte, during conception to produce a single-celled individual known as a zygote. This is the cornerstone of sexual reproduction and involves the two gametes both contributing half the normal set of chromosomes (haploid) to result in a chromosomally normal (diploid) zygote.
To preserve the number of chromosomes in the offspring – which differs between species – each gamete must have half the usual number of chromosomes present in other body cells. Otherwise, the offspring will have twice the normal number of chromosomes, and serious abnormalities may result. In humans, chromosomal abnormalities arising from incorrect spermatogenesis can result in Down Syndrome, Klinefelter's Syndrome, and spontaneous abortion. Most chromosomally abnormal zygotes will not survive for long after conception; however, dollenme plant reproduction is a little more robust, and viable new species may arise from cases of polyploidy.
Location
Spermatogenesis takes place within several structures of the male reproductive system. The initial stages occur within the testes and progress to the epididymis where the developing gametes mature and are stored until ejaculation. The seminiferous tubules of the testes are the starting point for the process, where stem cells adjacent to the inner tubule wall divide in a centripetal direction—beginning at the walls and proceeding into the innermost part, or lumen—to produce immature sperm. Maturation occurs in the epididymis and involves the acquisition of a tail and hence motility.
Stages
Spermatocytogenesis
Spermatocytogenesis is the male form of gametocytogenesis and results in the formation of spermatocytes possessing half the normal complement of genetic material. In spermatocytogenesis, a diploid spermatogonium which resides in the basal compartment of seminiferous tubules, divides mitotically to produce two diploid intermediate cell called a primary spermatocyte. Each primary spermatocyte then moves into the adluminal compartment of the seminiferous tubules and duplicates its DNA and subsequently undergoes meiosis I to produce two haploid secondary spermatocytes. This division implicates sources of genetic variation, such as random inclusion of either parental chromosomes, and chromosomal crossover, to increase the genetic variability of the gamete.
Each cell division from a spermatogonium to a spermatid is incomplete; the cells remain connected to one another by bridges of cytoplasm to allow synchronous development. It should also be noted that not all spermatogonia divide to produce spermatocytes, otherwise the supply would run out. Instead, certain types of spermatogonia divide to produce copies of themselves, thereby ensuring a constant supply of gametogonia to fuel spermatogenesis.
Spermatidogenesis
Spermatidogenesis is the creation of spermatids from secondary spermatocytes. Secondary spermatocytes produced earlier rapidly enter meiosis II and divide to produce haploid spermatids. The brevity of this stage means that secondary spermatocytes are rarely seen in histological preparations.
Spermiogenesis
During spermiogenesis, the spermatids begin to grow a tail, and develop a thickened mid-piece, where the mitochondria gather and form an axoneme. Spermatid DNA also undergoes packaging, becoming highly condensed. The DNA is packaged firstly with specific nuclear basic proteins, which are subsequently replaced with protamines during spermatid elongation. The resultant tightly packed chromatin is transcriptionally inactive. The Golgi apparatus surrounds the now condensed nucleus, becoming the acrosome. One of the centrioles of the cell elongates to become the tail of the sperm.
Maturation then takes place under the influence of testosterone, which removes the remaining unnecessary cytoplasm and organelles. The excess cytoplasm, known as residual bodies, is phagocytosed by surrounding Sertoli cells in the testes. The resulting spermatozoa are now mature but lack motility, rendering them sterile. The mature spermatozoa are released from the protective Sertoli cells into the lumen of the seminiferous tubule in a process called spermiation.
The non-motile spermatozoa are transported to the epididymis in testicular fluid secreted by the Sertoli cells with the aid of peristaltic contraction. Whilst in the epididymis they acquire motility and become capable of fertilisation. However, transport of the mature spermatozoa through the remainder of the male reproductive system is achieved via muscle contraction rather than the spermatozoon's recently acquired motility.

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