Pariante, P., Dotolo, R., Venditti, M., Ferrara, D., Donizetti, A., Aniello, F., Minucci, S. (2016) Prothymosin alpha expression and localization during the spermatogenesis of Danio rerio. Zygote (Cambridge, England). 24(4):583-93.
Prothymosin α (PTMA) is a highly acidic, intrinsically disordered protein, which is widely expressed and conserved throughout evolution; its uncommon features are reflected by its involvement in a variety of processes, including chromatin remodelling, transcriptional regulation, cell proliferation and death, immunity. PTMA has also been implicated in spermatogenesis: during vertebrate germ cell progression in the testis the protein is expressed in meiotic and post-meiotic stages, and it is associated with the acrosome system of the differentiating spermatids in mammals. Then, it finally localizes on the inner acrosomal membrane of the mature spermatozoa, suggesting its possible role in both the maturation and function of the gametes. In the present work we studied PTMA expression during the spermatogenesis of the adult zebrafish, a species in which two paralogs have been described. Our data show that ptma transcripts are expressed in the testis, and localize in meiotic and post-meiotic germ cells, namely spermatocytes and spermatids. Consistently, the protein is expressed in spermatocytes, spermatids, and spermatozoa: its initial perinuclear distribution is extended to the chromatin region during cell division and, in haploid phases, to the cytoplasm of the developing and final gametes. The nuclear localization in the acrosome-lacking spermatozoa suggests a role for PTMA in chromatin remodelling during gamete differentiation. These data further provide a compelling starting point for the study of PTMA functions during vertebrate fertilization.