Fis1 ablation in the male germline disrupts mitochondrial morphology and mitophagy, and arrests spermatid maturation


Male germline development involves choreographed changes to mitochondrial number, morphology and organization. Mitochondrial reorganization during spermatogenesis was recently shown to require mitochondrial fusion and fission. Mitophagy, the autophagic degradation of mitochondria, is another mechanism for controlling mitochondrial number and physiology, but its role during spermatogenesis is largely unknown. During post-meiotic spermatid development, restructuring of the mitochondrial network results in packing of mitochondria into a tight array in the sperm midpiece to fuel motility. Here, we show that disruption of mouse Fis1 in the male germline results in early spermatid arrest that is associated with increased mitochondrial content. Mutant spermatids coalesce into multinucleated giant cells that accumulate mitochondria of aberrant ultrastructure and numerous mitophagic and autophagic intermediates, suggesting a defect in mitophagy. We conclude that Fis1 regulates mitochondrial morphology and turnover to promote spermatid maturation.