The connecting pieces of the sperm neck link the flagellum and the sperm head, and they are important for initiating flagellar beating. The connecting pieces are important building blocks for the sperm neck, however the mechanism of connecting piece assembly is poorly understood. In the present study, we explored the role of septins in sperm motility and found that Sept12D197N knock-in (KI) mice produce acephalic and immotile spermatozoa. Electron microscopy analysis showed defective connecting pieces in sperm from KI mice, indicating that SEPT12 is required for the establishment of connecting pieces. We also found that SEPT12 formed a complex with SEPT1, SEPT2, SEPT10, and SEPT11 at the sperm neck and that the D197N mutation disrupted the complex, suggesting that the SEPT12 complex is involved in the assembly of connecting pieces. Additionally, we found that SEPT12 interacted and colocalized with γ-tubulin in elongating spermatids, implying that SEPT12 and pericentriolar materials jointly contribute to the formation of connecting pieces. Collectively, our findings suggest that SEPT12 is required for the formation of striated columns, and the capitulum and for maintaining the stability of the sperm head-tail junction.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. All rights reserved.