Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sperm proteome gives “tantalising glimpse” towards the origin of sex

13.11.2006
The first ever catalogue of the different types of proteins found in sperm could help reveal the origins of sex and explain some of the mysteries of infertility, say scientists.

Research published in Nature Genetics today describes 381 proteins present in sperm of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Whilst more proteins may be identified as research progresses, this study marks the first substantial ’whole-cell’ characterisation of the protein components of a higher eukaryotic cell (a cell in which all the genetic components are contained within a nucleus).

This so-called ‘proteome’ contains everything the sperm needs to survive and function correctly, and scientists can use it to investigate the factors that make some sperm more successful than others.

Around half of the genes of the fruit fly sperm proteome have comparable versions in humans and mice, making it a useful model for studying male infertility in mammals.

... more about:
»Drosophila »Protein »Sex »fruit fly »proteome

By comparing the sperm proteome of the fruit fly with other species, scientists will also be able to rewind evolution and work out the core sperm proteome – the most basic constituents a sperm needs for sexual reproduction. This will shed light on how sex itself evolved.

“This is the first catalogue of sperm proteins for any organism, and it offers a tantalising glimpse into how we might begin to answer some of biology’s most fundamental questions,” said Dr Tim Karr from the University of Bath who led the study.

“Amazingly we know very little about what is in a sperm, which probably explains why we don’t really understand sex, let alone how it evolved.

“Before we catalogued the sperm proteome, we only knew a few specific proteins in the Drosophila sperm.

“Being able to compare the structure and content of the proteomes of sperm from different species should help us understand the evolution and origin of sperm.

“We now know of at least 381, which is a greater than 50-fold increase in our knowledge base. Now that we have identified them, we should be able to study the function of all of these.”

Proteins carry out an immense range of functions, from forming structural materials to catalysing chemical reactions, so knowing exactly what proteins are in sperm is a great step forward in understanding.

The research involved purifying fruit fly sperm and developing methods to study their protein content. Previous estimates for the protein content of sperm were based on counts of proteins separated into ‘spots’ on a special gel matrix. However, these only identify the total number of proteins in sperm – rather than identifying the specific identity of each protein constituent

“The sperm proteome provides a basis for studying the critical functional components of sperm required for motility, fertilisation and possibly early embryo development,” said Dr Steve Dorus, also from the University of Bath, who collaborated with Dr Karr on the project.

“It should be a valuable tool in the study of infertility as more targeted studies can now be established in model organisms.

“Furthermore, having a comprehensive catalogue of proteins to compare between different species will reveal how natural selection has impacted sperm evolution.

“We can start to look for the ‘core’ sperm proteome - that is, the most basic required constituents of sperm. This will not only shed light on the evolutionary origins of sperm, but may advance our understanding of the evolution of sex itself.”

The research will also help further our understanding of sperm competition – the attributes within a sperm that make one sperm more successful at reaching and fertilising the egg than its peers.

“This question of sperm competition has baffled scientists for years,” said Dr Karr.

“If we can work out what makes one sperm more successful than another, we might be able to apply this knowledge to clinical therapies for the treatment of sperm that are not functioning properly.”

The findings are particularly timely as a variety of research is beginning to highlight the increasingly important role of sperm.

Scientists are discovering that as well as carrying the DNA that spells out the male’s contribution to a new life, sperm carries RNA and proteins which have a direct influence on fertilisation and embryo development.

Professor Geoff Parker, Derby Professor of Zoology at the University of Liverpool, said: "This paper provides a remarkable, pioneering analysis of the molecular basis of sperm form and function by identifying 381 proteins of the Drosophila melanogaster sperm proteome, including mitochondrial, metabolic and cytoskeletal proteins.

“Their work has great relevance to current debate on the evolutionary underpinnings of sperm characteristics, and may have application to mammalian sperm function. The Drosophila sperm proteins show substantial homology with the axoneme accessory structure of mouse sperm.”

Professor Manyuan Long, Professor of Genetics & Evolution at the University of Chicago, said: “This is a milestone in the understanding of genomic distribution of male specific proteins. I marvel at their tremendous efforts and great successes.”

The research is funded by the Royal Society and the National Science Foundation with additional support from the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council and the National Institutes of Health.

Andrew McLaughlin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bath.ac.uk
http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/articles/releases/spermproteome121106.html

Further reports about: Drosophila Protein Sex fruit fly proteome

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'
23.01.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant
23.01.2018 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>