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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1997 Jul 19;1336(1):99-109.

Molecular cloning and characterization of the epididymis-specific glutathione peroxidase-like protein secreted in the porcine epididymal fluid.

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Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


The epididymis-specific glutathione peroxidase was purified from the porcine cauda epididymal fluid in order to analyze its enzymatic activity and roles in the epididymis. The purified protein was found to consist of four identical 23 kDa subunits. The complementary DNA encoding the 23 kDa subunit was cloned from the cDNA library of the porcine proximal caput epididymis, only where the 23 kDa subunit is expressed. Although the selenocysteine codon (TGA) is contained in the cDNA of the other cytosolic type of glutathione peroxidases, it is replaced by cysteine codon (TGT) in the 23 kDa subunit cDNA, similarly to the results previously obtained for cDNAs encoding the epididymis-specific form of the secreted glutathione peroxidases of mouse, rat and monkey. By the direct analysis of the selenium, the purified protein was proved to contain no selenium atom in the molecule. The activities of the purified epididymis-specific glutathione peroxidase toward hydrogen peroxide or organic hydroperoxides were by far lower than the activity of cytosolic selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase (less than 0.1%). In addition, the concentration of glutathione in the porcine epididymal fluids was about 20 microM, which is much lower than the optimal concentration for the glutathione peroxidase activity of the purified protein. These results strongly suggest that this protein is enzymatically quiescent at least in the porcine epididymal fluid. An immunocytochemical study showed that this protein was found to bind to the acrosomal region of the epididymal sperm and to disappear during the acrosome reaction. Furthermore, this protein significantly retarded the acrosome reaction induced in vitro. The possibilities have been discussed that it protects sperm from the premature acrosome reaction and maintains sperm fertilizing ability in the epididymis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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