Proteomic characterization of the human sperm nucleus

Proteomics. 2011 Jul;11(13):2714-26. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201000799. Epub 2011 Jun 1.


Generating a catalogue of sperm nuclear proteins is an important first step towards the clarification of the function of the paternal chromatin transmitted to the oocyte upon fertilization. With this goal, sperm nuclei were obtained through CTAB treatment and isolated to over 99.9% purity without any tail fragments, acrosome or mitochondria as assessed by optical microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. The nuclear proteins were extracted and separated in 2-D and 1-D gels and the 2-D spots and 1-D bands were excised and analysed to identify the proteins through LC-MS/MS. With this approach, 403 different proteins have been identified from the isolated sperm nuclei. The most abundant family of proteins identified are the histones, for which several novel members had not been reported previously as present in the spermatogenic cell line or in the human mature spermatozoa. More than half (52.6%) of the proteins had not been detected in the previous human whole sperm cell proteome reports. Of relevance, several chromatin-related proteins, such as zinc fingers and transcription factors, so far not known to be associated with the sperm chromatin, have also been detected. This provides additional information about the nuclear proteins that are potentially relevant for epigenetic marking, proper fertilization and embryo development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry*
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nuclear Proteins / analysis*
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Spermatozoa / cytology*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proteome