Medicina (Kaunas). 2022 Oct 7;58(10):1408. doi: 10.3390/medicina58101408.
Background and Objectives: Septins (SEPTs) are highly conserved GTP-binding proteins and the fourth component of the cytoskeleton. Polymerization of SEPTs contributes to several critical cellular processes such as cytokinesis, cytoskeletal remodeling, and vesicle transportation. In our previous study, we found that SEPT14 mutations resulted in teratozoospermia with >87% sperm morphological defects. SEPT14 interactors were also identified through proteomic assays, and one of the peptides was mapped to RAB3B and RAB3C. Most studies on the RAB3 family have focused on RAB3A, which regulates the exocytosis of neurotransmitters and acrosome reactions. However, the general expression and patterns of the RAB3 family members during human spermatogenesis, and the association between RAB3 and teratozoospermia owing to a SEPT14 mutation, are largely unknown. Materials and Methods: Human sperm and murine male germ cells were collected in this study and immunofluorescence analysis was applied on the collected sperm. Results: In this study, we observed that the RAB3C transcripts were more abundant than those of RAB3A, 3B, and 3D in human testicular tissues. During human spermatogenesis, the RAB3C protein is mainly enriched in elongated spermatids, and RAB3B is undetectable. In mature human spermatozoa, RAB3C is concentrated in the postacrosomal region, neck, and midpiece. The RAB3C signals were delocalized within human spermatozoa harboring the SEPT14 mutation, and the decreased signals were accompanied by a defective head and tail, compared with the healthy controls. To determine whether RAB3C is involved in the morphological formation of the head and tail of the sperm, we separated murine testicular tissue and isolated elongated spermatids for further study. We found that RAB3C is particularly expressed in the manchette structure, which assists sperm head shaping at the spermatid head, and is also localized at the sperm tail. Conclusions: Based on these results, we suggest that the localization of RAB3C proteins in murine and human sperm is associated with SEPT14 mutation-induced morphological defects in sperm.