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Proteomic Markers of Functional Sperm Population in Bovines: Comparison of Low- and High-Density Spermatozoa Following Cryopreservation

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posted on 17.11.2017, 00:00 by Olivier D’Amours, Gilles Frenette, Sylvie Bourassa, Ézéchiel Calvo, Patrick Blondin, Robert Sullivan
Mammalian semen contains a heterogeneous population of sperm cells. This heterogeneity results from variability in the complex processes of cell differentiation in the testis, biochemical modifications undergone by spermatozoa during transit along the male reproductive tract, interactions with secretions from accessory sex glands at ejaculation, and, in the context of reproductive technologies, in the ability of ejaculated spermatozoa to resist damage associated with freeze–thaw procedures. When submitted to density gradient centrifugation, ejaculated spermatozoa distribute themselves into two distinct populations: a low-density population characterized by low motility parameters, and a high-density population with high motility characteristics. To understand the origin of ejaculated spermatozoa heterogeneity, cryopreserved semen samples from bulls used by the artificial insemination (A.I.) industry were submitted to Percoll gradient centrifugation. Proteins from low and high density spermatozoa were then extracted with sodium deoxycholate and submitted to proteomic analysis using iTRAQ (isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation) methodologies. Quantification of selected sperm proteins was confirmed by multiple reaction monitoring (MRM). Overall, 31 different proteins were more abundant in low-density spermatozoa, while 80 different proteins were more abundant in the high-density subpopulation. Proteins enriched in high-density spermatozoa were markers of sperm functionality such as the glycolytic process, binding to the egg zona pellucida, and motility. Low-density spermatozoa were not solely characterized by loss of proteins and their associated functions. Chaperonin-containing TCP1s and chaperones are hallmarks of the low-density subpopulation. iTRAQ analysis revealed that other proteins such as binder of sperm proteins, histone, GPX5, ELSPBP1, and clusterin are overexpressed in low-density spermatozoa suggesting that these proteins represent defects occurring at different steps during the sperm journey. These differences contribute to the sperm cell heterogeneity present in mammalian semen.