Proteomics reveals novel Drosophila seminal fluid proteins transferred at mating

PLoS Biol. 2008 Jul 29;6(7):e178. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060178.


Across diverse taxa, seminal fluid proteins (Sfps) transferred at mating affect the reproductive success of both sexes. Such reproductive proteins often evolve under positive selection between species; because of this rapid divergence, Sfps are hypothesized to play a role in speciation by contributing to reproductive isolation between populations. In Drosophila, individual Sfps have been characterized and are known to alter male sperm competitive ability and female post-mating behavior, but a proteomic-scale view of the transferred Sfps has been missing. Here we describe a novel proteomic method that uses whole-organism isotopic labeling to detect transferred Sfps in mated female D. melanogaster. We identified 63 proteins, which were previously unknown to function in reproduction, and confirmed the transfer of dozens of predicted Sfps. Relative quantification of protein abundance revealed that several of these novel Sfps are abundant in seminal fluid. Positive selection and tandem gene duplication are the prevailing forces of Sfp evolution, and comparative proteomics with additional species revealed lineage-specific changes in seminal fluid content. We also report a proteomic-based gene discovery method that uncovered 19 previously unannotated genes in D. melanogaster. Our results demonstrate an experimental method to identify transferred proteins in any system that is amenable to isotopic labeling, and they underscore the power of combining proteomic and evolutionary analyses to shed light on the complex process of Drosophila reproduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Complementary / chemistry
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins / genetics
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins / metabolism*
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins / physiology
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/EU755332
  • GENBANK/EU755333
  • GENBANK/EU755334
  • GENBANK/EU755335
  • GENBANK/EU755336
  • GENBANK/EU755337
  • GENBANK/EU755338
  • GENBANK/EU755339
  • GENBANK/EU755340
  • GENBANK/EU755341
  • GENBANK/EU755342
  • GENBANK/EU755343
  • GENBANK/EU755344
  • GENBANK/EU755345
  • GENBANK/EU755346
  • GENBANK/EU755347
  • GENBANK/EU755348
  • GENBANK/EU755349
  • GENBANK/EU755350