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Biology of reproduction

SPACA7 is a novel male germ cell-specific protein localized to the sperm acrosome that is involved in fertilization in mice.


PMID 24307706

Abstract

Sperm acrosome associated 7 (SPACA7) is a novel protein of unknown function with no homology to any known protein. Spaca7 transcripts are detected only in testis and predict a 158-residue mature polypeptide with one potential N-glycosylation site and no cysteines. Orthologs are present in various species, including mice and humans. We developed a polyclonal antibody to mouse SPACA7 to study its expression and function. Western blotting and immunofluorescence microscopy detected SPACA7 only in testis, and it was detected in testis starting at Postnatal Day 21 and into adulthood. Immunofluorescence staining of testicular germ cells detected weak SPACA7 expression as early as zygotene spermatocytes. Higher expression was observed in round spermatids, where SPACA7 was localized to a perinuclear spot adjacent to the Golgi and to the acrosome of elongating spermatids and spermatozoa. Immunogold electron microscopy demonstrated that SPACA7 is localized within the proacrosomal granule of round spermatids and the acrosome of spermatozoa. Finally, we showed that SPACA7 was retained within the acrosome of epididymal sperm and was released upon the acrosome reaction. To assess if SPACA7 was involved in fertilization, in vitro fertilization assays in the presence of anti-SPACA7 IgG were performed. Anti-SPACA7 inhibited fertilization of cumulus-intact eggs and prominently delayed cumulus dispersal. However, anti-SPACA7 did not inhibit fertilization of cumulus-free eggs. Our findings indicate that release of SPACA7 from the acrosome accelerates cumulus dispersal and facilitates fertilization via unknown mechanisms. This study is the first to document the expression of endogenous SPACA7 and a function for this novel acrosomal protein.