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Biol Reprod. 2008 Sep;79(3):421-31. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.107.067314. Epub 2008 Apr 30.

The equatorial subsegment in mammalian spermatozoa is enriched in tyrosine phosphorylated proteins.

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The Babraham Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


The equatorial subsegment (EqSS) was originally identified by atomic force microscopy as a discrete region within the equatorial segment of Artiodactyl spermatozoa. In this investigation, we show that the EqSS is enriched in tyrosine phosphorylated proteins and present preliminary evidence for its presence in mouse and rat spermatozoa. The anti-phosphotyrosine monoclonal antibody (McAb) 4G10 bound strongly and discretely to the EqSS of permeabilized boar, ram, and bull spermatozoa. It also bound to a small patch on the posterior acrosomal region of permeabilized mouse and rat spermatozoa, suggesting that the EqSS is not restricted to the order Artiodactyla. An anti-HSPA1A (formerly Hsp70) antibody recognized the EqSS in boar spermatozoa. Immunogold labeling with McAb 4G10 localized the tyrosine phosphorylated proteins to the outer acrosomal membrane. This was verified by freeze-fracture electron microscopy, which identified the EqSS in three overlying membranes, the plasma membrane, outer acrosomal membrane, and inner acrosomal membrane. In all five species, tyrosine phosphorylated proteins became restricted to the EqSS during sperm maturation in the epididymis. The major tyrosine phosphorylated proteins in the EqSS of boar and ram spermatozoa were identified by mass spectrometry as orthologs of human SPACA1 (formerly SAMP32). Immunofluorescence with a specific polyclonal antibody localized SPACA1 to the equatorial segment in boar spermatozoa. We speculate that the EqSS is an organizing center for assembly of multimolecular complexes that initiate fusion competence in this area of the plasma membrane following the acrosome reaction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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