Vacuolar H(+)-ATPase is not restricted to clear cells of the epididymal epithelium in cattle

Sung Woo Kim1, Bongki Kim2,*
Author Information & Copyright
1Animal Genetic Resource Research Center, National Institute of Animal Science, RDA, Hamyang 50000, Korea.
2Department of Animal Resources Science, Kongju National University, Yesan 32439, Korea.
*Corresponding Author: Bongki Kim, Department of Animal Resources Science, Kongju National University, Yesan 32439, Korea, Republic of. E-mail:

© Copyright 2021 Korean Society of Animal Science and Technology. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Oct 09, 2020; Revised: Dec 16, 2020; Accepted: Dec 21, 2020

Published Online: Jan 04, 2021


Communication among epididymal epithelial cells creates the best luminal condition where spermatozoa mature, transport and are stored. Vacuolar ATPase (V-ATPase) and cytokeratin 5 (KRT5) have been used as signal indicators for clear and basal cells of the epididymal epithelium, respectively, in mice, rats, bats, and pigs; however, these two markers have not yet been described in the epididymis of bulls. Here, we examined the presence and distribution of the B1 subunit of V-ATPase (B1-VATPase) and KRT5 in the distinct regions of adult bovine epididymides, specifically, the caput, corpus, and cauda. Immunofluorescence staining and confocal microscopy showed that narrow shaped-clear cells were placed in the caput and corpus regions of the bovine epididymis; however, they were absent in the cauda epididymis. In addition, B1-VATPase was highly expressed in the cauda spermatozoa; however, it was rarely detected in the caput spermatozoa. On the other hand, KRT5-positive cells, basal cells, were maintained beneath the basal lamina and they had the traditional form with a dome-shaped morphology from the caput to cauda region of the bovine epididymis. The co-expression of B1-VATPase and KRT5 was confined to basal cells placed in the basal region of the epithelium. In summary, 1) clear cells were present with region-specific localization, 2) B1-VATPase was present in the corpus and cauda spermatozoa but absent in the caput, 3) co-expressed cells with B1-VATPase and KRT5 were present in the adult bovine epididymis, and 4) B1-VATPase was not a specific marker for clear cells in the bovine epididymis,. Therefore, the perfect epididymal luminal condition created by the specific expression and localization patterns of B1-VATPase might be necessary to obtain fertilizing capacity of spermatozoa in the bovine epididymis.

Keywords: clear cell; basal cell; cytokeratin 5; vacuolar H+-ATPase; immunofluorescence

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