A 48 kDa integral membrane phosphoprotein orchestrates the cytoskeletal dynamics that generate amoeboid cell motility in Ascaris sperm

J Cell Sci. 2003 Jul 1;116(Pt 13):2655-63. doi: 10.1242/jcs.00469. Epub 2003 May 13.


Protrusion of the lamellipod in the crawling sperm of Ascaris is tightly coupled to the localized vectorial assembly and bundling of the major sperm protein cytoskeleton. In cell-free extracts of sperm, vesicles derived from the leading edge membrane reconstitute protrusion by directing the assembly of columnar meshworks of major sperm protein filaments that push the vesicle forward as they elongate. Treatment with proteases or a tyrosine phosphatase abolished vesicle activity, suggesting the involvement of a membrane phosphoprotein. Fractionation of vesicle proteins by sequential detergent lysis, size exclusion chromatography and immunoprecipitation with antiphosphotyrosine antibody identified a 48 kDa integral membrane phosphoprotein as the only sperm membrane component required to nucleate major sperm protein polymerization under physiological conditions. Immunolabeling assays showed that this protein is distributed uniformly in the sperm plasma membrane, but that its active phosphorylated form is located only at sites of major sperm protein polymerization at the leading edge. Because this protein specifies sites of cytoskeletal assembly, we have named it major sperm protein polymerization organizing protein (MPOP). The phosphorylation of MPOP is pH sensitive and appears to require a soluble tyrosine kinase. Comparison of the activity of MPOP to that of analogous membrane proteins in actin-based systems emphasizes the importance of precise transmission of information from the membrane to the cytoskeleton in amoeboid cell motility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Ascaris*
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Helminth Proteins / chemistry
  • Helminth Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Helminth Proteins / physiology
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Weight
  • Phosphoproteins / chemistry
  • Phosphoproteins / isolation & purification
  • Phosphoproteins / physiology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Pseudopodia / metabolism
  • Pseudopodia / ultrastructure
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Spermatozoa / ultrastructure


  • Helminth Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins