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Mol Hum Reprod. 2004 Jun;10(6):433-44. Epub 2004 Mar 25.

Expression analysis of the human testis-specific serine/threonine kinase (TSSK) homologues. A TSSK member is present in the equatorial segment of human sperm.

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Center for Research in Contraception and Reproductive Health (CRCRH), Department of Cell Biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


Two members of the human testis-specific serine/threonine (Ser/Thr) kinase family, TSSK 1 and TSSK 2, were cloned and sequenced from a human testis adaptor-ligated cDNA library using a PCR strategy. Within the cDNA, open reading frames (ORF) were defined encoding proteins of 367 and 358 amino acids respectively, as well as conserved kinase domains typical of the superfamily of Ser/Thr kinases. Both genes were intronless and mapped to chromosomes 5 and 22 respectively. The human and mouse homologues of TSSK 1 and TSSK 2, together with TSSK 3 and SSTK/FKSG82, constitute a kinase subfamily closely related to the calmodulin kinases and SNF/nim 1 kinase subfamilies. Similar to the mouse, tissue expression by northern and dot blot analysis revealed that human TSSK 1 and 2 messages are expressed exclusively in the testis. However, mRNA for these kinases can be detected in other tissues using real-time PCR. In addition, TSKS, the human homologue of a putative substrate of TSSK 1 and 2, was cloned. TSKS had an ORF of 592 amino acids and was also expressed exclusively in the testis as demonstrated by northern and dot blot analyses; however, lower levels of expression in other tissues were detected using real-time PCR. Human TSSK 2 and TSKS interacted in a yeast two-hybrid system and also co-immunoprecipitated after in vitro translation. TSSK 2 expressed in yeast and bacteria was able to autophosphorylate and also phosphorylated recombinant TSKS in vitro. Antibodies against recombinant TSSK 2 demonstrated that a member of the TSSK family was present in human testis and localized to the equatorial segment of ejaculated human sperm. In contrast, TSKS was only found in the testis. The finding of a TSSK family member in mature sperm suggests that this family of kinases might play a role in sperm function.

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