Elucidating the processes and pathways enriched in buffalo sperm proteome in regulating semen quality

Cell Tissue Res. 2021 Feb;383(2):881-903. doi: 10.1007/s00441-020-03303-9. Epub 2020 Nov 5.


Sperm carries a reservoir of proteins regulating the molecular functions to attain functional competence. Semen samples collected from buffalo bulls were assessed for sperm functional attributes (n = 11) and proteome profiling (n = 6). Sperm proteins were extracted and profiled by employing LC-MS/MS. Overall, the buffalo sperm contained 1365 proteins, of which 458 were common between the groups. The unique proteins were 477 and 430 in good and poor quality semen, respectively. In the whole proteome of buffalo sperm, sexual reproduction with phosphatidylethanolamine-binding protein1 (PEBP1), fetuin-B (FETUB) and acrosin (ACR) was the most enriched (p = 8.44E-19) biological process, also with thermogenesis (p = 0.003), oocyte meiosis (p = 0.007) and vascular smooth muscle contraction (p = 0.009) apart from metabolic pathways. In good quality semen, mesenchyme migration (p = 1.24E-07) and morphogenesis (p = 0.001) were abundant biological processes. In good quality semen, the fluid shear stress (p = 0.01) and, in poor quality semen, valine, leucine and isoleucine degradation (p = 3.8E-05) pathways were enriched. In good quality semen, 7 proteins were significantly (p < 0.05) upregulated and 33 proteins were significantly (p < 0.05) downregulated. On validating the abundantly expressed sperm proteins, serine protease inhibitor Kazal-type 2-like (SPINK2; 2.17-fold) and neddylin (NEDD8; 1.13-fold) were upregulated and YBX2 was downregulated (0.41-fold) in good quality semen as compared with poor quality semen (1-fold). The present findings revealed the importance of sperm proteins in oocyte maturation, fertilization process and early embryonic development. The variations in the proteomic composition can be used as potential markers for the selection of breeding bulls.

Keywords: Buffalo; Fertility; Semen quality; Sperm pathways; Sperm proteome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Buffaloes / metabolism*
  • Gene Ontology
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Meiosis
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiology
  • Oocytes / cytology
  • Proteome / metabolism*
  • Proteomics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Semen / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*


  • Proteome