Although previous studies have demonstrated that phospholipid methylation occurs in the testis and may be involved in Leydig cell function, phospholipid methylation in spermatogenic cells has not been characterized. In this study we describe the occurrence, time course, and localization of phospholipid methylation in the hamster testis following intratesticular injection of radioactive methyl precursor. Adult and pubertal (seven day old) hamsters were injected intratesticularly with [3H-methyl]-methionine and sacrificed 10 min. to 31 hours thereafter. The testes were then removed and homogenized or dispersed into cell suspensions. Spermatogenic cell and Leydig cell enriched preparations were isolated from the dispersed cell preparations using elutriation and Percoll gradient centrifugation and assayed for methylated phospholipids and proteins. These experiments demonstrated that 1) phospholipid methylation occurs in the hamster testis at a level seven-fold greater than protein methylation, 2) the incorporation of radioactivity associated with phospholipid methylation is progressive over time, and 3) in vivo, spermatogenic cell preparations enriched with pachytene spermatocytes have an almost four-fold higher level of measurable phospholipid methylation when compared to whole testis preparations. Taken together, these results suggest that phospholipid methylation may play an important stage-specific role in spermatogenesis.
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