Physiology and endocrinology symposium: a proteome-based model for sperm mobility phenotype

J Anim Sci. 2011 May;89(5):1330-7. doi: 10.2527/jas.2010-3367. Epub 2010 Oct 29.


Sperm mobility is defined as sperm movement against resistance at body temperature. Although all mobile sperm are motile, not all motile sperm are mobile. Sperm mobility is a primary determinant of male fertility in the chicken. Previous work explained phenotypic variation at the level of the sperm cell and the mitochondrion. The present work was conducted to determine if phenotypic variation could be explained at the level of the proteome using semen donors from lines of chickens selected for low or high sperm mobility. We began by testing the hypothesis that premature mitochondrial failure, and hence sperm immobility, arose from Ca(2+) overloading. The hypothesis was rejected because staining with a cell permeant Ca(2+)-specific dye was not enhanced in the case of low mobility sperm. The likelihood that sperm require little energy before ejaculation and the realization that the mitochondrial permeability transition can be induced by oxidative stress arising from inadequate NADH led to the hypothesis that glycolytic enzymes might differ between lines. This possibility was confirmed by 2-dimensional electrophoresis for aldolase and phosphoglycerate kinase 1. This outcome warranted evaluation of the whole cell proteome by differential detergent fractionation and mass spectrometry. Bioinformatics evaluation of proteins with different expression levels confirmed the likelihood that ATP metabolism and glycolysis differ between lines. This experimental outcome corroborated differences observed between lines in previous work, which include mitochondrial ultrastructure, sperm cell oxygen consumption, and straight line velocity. Although glycolytic proteins were more abundant within highly mobile sperm, quantitative PCR of representative testis RNA, which included mRNA for phosphoglycerate kinase 1, found no difference between lines. In summary, we propose a proteome-based model for sperm mobility phenotype in which a genetic predisposition puts sperm cells at risk of premature mitochondrial failure as they pass through the excurrent ducts of the testis. In other words, we attribute mitochondrial failure to sperm cell and reproductive tract attributes that interact to affect sperm in a stochastic manner before ejaculation. In conclusion, our work provides a starting point for understanding chicken semen quality in terms of gene networks.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aniline Compounds / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Chickens / physiology*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional / veterinary
  • Fertility / physiology*
  • Flow Cytometry / veterinary
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Fructose-Bisphosphate Aldolase / genetics
  • Fructose-Bisphosphate Aldolase / physiology
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry / veterinary
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphoglycerate Kinase / genetics
  • Phosphoglycerate Kinase / physiology
  • Proteomics / methods
  • RNA / chemistry
  • RNA / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Sperm Motility / genetics
  • Sperm Motility / physiology*
  • Spermatozoa / enzymology
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*
  • Spermatozoa / ultrastructure
  • Xanthenes / chemistry


  • Aniline Compounds
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Xanthenes
  • Fluo-3
  • RNA
  • Phosphoglycerate Kinase
  • Fructose-Bisphosphate Aldolase