Piezo Protein Needed for Sperm Production in Silkworms

Jim Crocker
21st May, 2024

Piezo Protein Needed for Sperm Production in Silkworms

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Jiangsu University of Science and Technology studied the roles of two types of silkworm sperm: nucleate fertile eupyrene sperm and anucleate unfertile apyrene sperm
  • Eupyrene sperm can fertilize eggs, while apyrene sperm, despite being infertile, help eupyrene sperm reach the site of fertilization
  • The study found that the Piezo gene is crucial for the proper development and function of eupyrene sperm, affecting male fertility in silkworms
Understanding the mechanisms behind sperm diversity and function is crucial in reproductive biology. In a recent study from Jiangsu University of Science and Technology, researchers explored the unique characteristics of sperm in the silkworm Bombyx mori, a model insect in the lepidopteran group[1]. This study sheds light on the roles and formation processes of two distinct sperm types: nucleate fertile eupyrene sperm and anucleate unfertile apyrene sperm. Silkworms produce two types of sperm, each with different roles in fertilization. Eupyrene sperm are nucleate and fertile, meaning they contain a nucleus and can fertilize an egg. Apyrene sperm, on the other hand, are anucleate and unfertile, lacking a nucleus and thus unable to fertilize an egg. Despite their infertility, apyrene sperm play a crucial role by assisting in the migration of eupyrene spermatozoa from the bursa copulatrix, where sperm is stored after mating, to the spermatheca, where fertilization occurs. During spermatogenesis, the process by which sperm are produced, eupyrene sperm bundles extrude cytoplasm through peristaltic squeezing. This process is essential for the maturation of the sperm, as it helps to discard unnecessary cellular components. The same mechanism is employed by apyrene sperm bundles to discard their nuclei, forming mature, anucleate sperm. This new study ties into previous research on mechanosensitive ion channels, which have been identified as critical components in various physiological processes. For example, Piezo1 and Piezo2 are mechanically activated (MA) cation channels that play significant roles in touch sensation, hearing, and blood pressure regulation in mammals[2][3]. These channels respond to mechanical stimuli by allowing ions to pass through the cell membrane, initiating a cascade of cellular responses. In the context of reproductive biology, mechanosensitive ion channels like Piezo1 and Piezo2 could potentially be involved in the peristaltic squeezing mechanism observed in silkworm spermatogenesis. The extrusion of cytoplasm and nuclei in sperm bundles might be regulated by similar mechanotransduction pathways, where mechanical forces are converted into biochemical signals. The importance of mechanosensitive ion channels extends beyond animals. In plants, for instance, the Arabidopsis thaliana PIEZO1 (PZO1) channel has been shown to play a significant role in root mechanotransduction, helping roots adapt to mechanical constraints in the soil[4]. This cross-kingdom functionality of PIEZO channels underscores their evolutionary conservation and fundamental role in responding to mechanical stimuli. In summary, the study from Jiangsu University of Science and Technology provides valuable insights into the specialized roles and formation processes of eupyrene and apyrene sperm in silkworms. By understanding these mechanisms, researchers can draw parallels to the broader field of mechanosensation, where mechanosensitive ion channels like Piezo1 and Piezo2 play crucial roles in various biological processes across different species[2][3][4]. This research not only enhances our understanding of reproductive biology in insects but also highlights the universal importance of mechanosensitive pathways in living organisms.

GeneticsBiochemAnimal Science


Main Study

1) The mechanoreceptor Piezo is required for spermatogenesis in Bombyx mori

Published 20th May, 2024


Related Studies

2) Piezo1 and Piezo2 are essential components of distinct mechanically activated cation channels.


3) Piezo1, a mechanically activated ion channel, is required for vascular development in mice.


4) PIEZO ion channel is required for root mechanotransduction in Arabidopsis thaliana.


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