The sperm flagellum is essential for the transport of the genetic material toward the oocyte and thus the transmission of the genetic information to the next generation. During the haploid phase of spermatogenesis, i.e., spermiogenesis, a morphological and molecular restructuring of the male germ cell, the round spermatid, takes place that includes the silencing and compaction of the nucleus, the formation of the acrosomal vesicle from the Golgi apparatus, the formation of the sperm tail, and, finally, the shedding of excessive cytoplasm. Sperm tail formation starts in the round spermatid stage when the pair of centrioles moves toward the posterior pole of the nucleus. The sperm tail, eventually, becomes located opposed to the acrosomal vesicle, which develops at the anterior pole of the nucleus. The centriole pair tightly attaches to the nucleus, forming a nuclear membrane indentation. An articular structure is formed around the centriole pair known as the connecting piece, situated in the neck region and linking the sperm head to the tail, also named the head-to-tail coupling apparatus or, in short, HTCA. Finally, the sperm tail grows out from the distal centriole that is now transformed into the basal body of the flagellum. However, a centriole pair is found in nearly all cells of the body. In somatic cells, it accumulates a large mass of proteins, the pericentriolar material (PCM), that together constitute the centrosome, which is the main microtubule-organizing center of the cell, essential not only for the structuring of the cytoskeleton and the overall cellular organization but also for mitotic spindle formation and chromosome segregation. However, in post-mitotic (G1 or G0) cells, the centrosome is transformed into the basal body. In this case, one of the centrioles, which is always the oldest or mother centriole, grows the axoneme of a cilium. Most cells of the body carry a single cilium known as the primary cilium that serves as an antenna sensing the cell’s environment. Besides, specialized cells develop multiple motile cilia differing in substructure from the immotile primary cilia that are essential in moving fluids or cargos over the cellular surface. Impairment of cilia formation causes numerous severe syndromes that are collectively subsumed as ciliopathies. This comparative overview serves to illustrate the molecular mechanisms of basal body formation, their similarities, and dissimilarities, in somatic versus male germ cells, by discussing the involved proteins/genes and their expression, localization, and function. The review, thus, aimed to provide a deeper knowledge of the molecular players that is essential for the expansion of clinical diagnostics and treatment of male fertility disorders.
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