Expression and possible role of muscle-type carnitine palmitoyltransferase I during sperm development in the rat. Academic Article uri icon


  • Because we had found whole testis from adult rats to be much richer in the messenger RNA for the muscle (M) than for the liver (L) form of mitochondrial carnitine palmitoyltransferase I (CPT I), we sought to determine which cell type(s) accounts for this expression pattern and how it might relate to reproductive function. Studies with immature (14-day-old) and adult animals included 1) Northern blot analysis of testis mRNA; 2) in situ hybridization with slices of testis; 3) enzyme assays for CPT I, CPT II, and carnitine acetyltransferase (CAT) in testicular germ cells and nongerm cells, together with measurement of the malonyl-coenzyme A (CoA) sensitivity and affinity for carnitine of CPT I; 4) labeling of testicular CPT I with [3H]etomoxir, a covalent inhibitor of the enzyme; and 5) the response of testicular and nontesticular CPT I to dietary etomoxir. The data established the following: 1) L-CPT I was the sole isoform detected in immature testis. 2) Expression of the M-CPT I gene was associated only with meiotic and postmeiotic germ cells. 3) Adult testis contains a mixture of the L- and M-CPT I enzymes, the L and M form dominating in extratubular cells and spermatids, respectively. Mature epididymal spermatozoa appear to be devoid of CPT I activity while possessing abundant levels of CPT II and CAT. 4) Five days of dietary etomoxir treatment at a dose that resulted in essentially complete inhibition of CPT I in liver, heart, skeletal muscle, and kidney was totally without effect on either the L- or M-type enzyme in the testis of mature rats. The data point to an important role for transient expression of M-CPT I, coupled with sustained activity of CAT, in the maturation and/or function of rat sperm. They also suggest that, at least in the case of one CPT I inhibitor (etomoxir), the testis is unusually resistant to the agent when given orally.

published proceedings

  • Biol Reprod

author list (cited authors)

  • Adams, S. H., Esser, V., Brown, N. F., Ing, N. H., Johnson, L., Foster, D. W., & McGarry, J. D.

citation count

  • 22

complete list of authors

  • Adams, SH||Esser, V||Brown, NF||Ing, NH||Johnson, L||Foster, DW||McGarry, JD

publication date

  • December 1998