Reverse transcriptase activity in mature spermatoza of mouse

Roberto Giordano, Anna Rosa Magnano, Germana Zaccagnini, Carmine Pittoggi, Nicola Moscufo, Rodolfo Lorenzini, Corrado Spadafora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We show here that a reverse transcriptase (RT) activity is present in murine epididymal spermatozoa. Sperm cells incubated with human poliovirus RNA can take up exogenous RNA molecules and internalize them in nuclei. Direct PCR amplification of DNA extracted from RNA-incubated spermatozoa indicate that poliovirus RNA is reverse-transcribed in cDNA fragments. PCR analysis of two-cell embryos shows that poliovirus RNA-challenged spermatozoa transfer retrotranscribed cDNA molecules into eggs during in vitro fertilization. Finally, RT molecules can be visualized on sperm nuclear scaffolds by immunogold electron microscopy. These results, therefore, reveal a novel metabolic function in spermatozoa, which may play a role during early embryonic development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1107-1113
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 20 2000


  • Fertilization
  • Nuclear scaffold
  • Retroposon
  • Reverse transcriptase
  • Spermatozoa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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