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Dev Biol. 1995 Feb;167(2):584-95.

Rat sperm plasma membrane mannosidase: localization and evidence for proteolytic processing during epididymal maturation.

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  • 1Center for Reproductive Biology Research, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-2633.


Previous studies from this laboratory have identified a novel alpha-D-mannosidase on the sperm plasma membranes of several species, including man, which may have a role in fertilization. The polyclonal antibody raised against an isoform of the enzyme purified from rat epididymal fluid was found to cross-react with the alpha-D-mannosidase activity present in the detergent-solubilized spermatozoa and sperm plasma membranes. In the present study, we have used affinity-purified as well as monospecific anti-mannosidase IgG to demonstrate that the sperm mannosidase is an integral plasma membrane component of the rat sperm and is localized on the periacrosomal region of the sperm head. In addition, we demonstrate proteolytic processing of the membrane-bound alpha-D-mannosidase during maturation of spermatozoa. The membrane fractions prepared from testis, and spermatozoa from the caput, corpus, and cauda regions of the epididymis, were solubilized in SDS and resolved by SDS-PAGE. The resolved polypeptides, when subjected to Western blot analysis using affinity-purified anti-mannosidase IgG as the primary antibody, revealed the presence of three specific immunoreactive bands (apparent M(r), 135, 125, and 115 kDa) in the membranes from testis, caput, and corpus spermatozoa. However, the cauda sperm plasma membranes showed only one immunoreactive band of apparent M(r) 115 kDa. The disappearance of the 135-and 125-kDa forms and the appearance of a sharp 115-kDa band on cauda spermatozoa suggests a precursor-product relationship between various molecular forms of the enzyme. Trypsin treatment of testicular and caput sperm membranes largely converted the precursor forms to the mature (115-kDa) form. The in vitro proteolysis resulted in an elevated level of the alpha-D-mannosidase activity in the caput (but not cauda) sperm plasma membrane. Inclusion of trypsin inhibitors (benzamidine and aprotinin) largely prevented the conversion of precursor form to the mature form. These data are consistent with the observed increase in the levels of sperm enzyme activity as spermatozoa move from the caput to the cauda region and suggest that the increase is due to the conversion of enzymatically inactive/less active high molecular weight precursor forms (135 and 125 kDa) into enzymatically active mature form (115 kDa) during sperm maturation.

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