The process of spermiogenesis is traditionally divided into four stages: the Golgi phase, the cap phase, the acrosomal phase, and the maturation stage.
The spermatids, which up until now have been mostly radially symmetrical, begins to develop polarity.
- The head forms at one end, and the Golgi apparatus creates enzymes that will become the acrosome.
- At the other end, it develops 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 acrosomal cap.
One of the centrioles of the cell elongates to become the tail of the sperm. A temporary structure called the "manchette" assists in this elongation.
During this phase, the developing spermatozoa orient themselves so that their tails point towards the center of the lumen, away from the epithelium.
The mature spermatozoa are released from the protective Sertoli cells into the lumen of the seminiferous tubule and a process called spermiation then takes place, which removes the remaining unnecessary cytoplasm and organelles.
The resulting spermatozoa are now mature but lack motility, rendering them sterile. 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.
- Swiss embryology (from UL, UB, and UF) cgametogen/spermato05
- Images and video of spermiogenesis - University of Arizona
- Overview at yale.edu
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