Cabs1 Maintains Structural Integrity of Mouse Sperm Flagella during Epididymal Transit of Sperm

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jan 11;22(2):652. doi: 10.3390/ijms22020652.


The calcium-binding protein spermatid-associated 1 (Cabs1) is a novel spermatid-specific protein. However, its function remains largely unknown. In this study, we found that a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) transcripted from the Cabs1 gene antisense, AntiCabs1, was also exclusively expressed in spermatids. Cabs1 and AntiCabs1 knockout mice were generated separately (using Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat (CRISPR)-Cas9 methods) to investigate their functions in spermatogenesis. The genetic loss of Cabs1 did not affect testicular and epididymal development; however, male mice exhibited significantly impaired sperm tail structure and subfertility. Ultrastructural analysis revealed defects in sperm flagellar differentiation leading to an abnormal annulus and disorganization of the midpiece-principal piece junction, which may explain the high proportion of sperm with a bent tail. Interestingly, the proportion of sperm with a bent tail increased during transit in the epididymis. Furthermore, Western blot and immunofluorescence analyses showed that a genetic loss of Cabs1 decreased Septin 4 and Krt1 and increased cyclin Y-like 1 (Ccnyl1) levels compared with the wild type, suggesting that Cabs1 deficiency disturbed the expression of cytoskeleton-related proteins. By contrast, AntiCabs1-/- mice were indistinguishable from the wild type regarding testicular and epididymal development, sperm morphology, concentration and motility, and male fertility. This study demonstrates that Cabs1 is an important component of the sperm annulus essential for proper sperm tail assembly and motility.

Keywords: AntiCabs1; Cabs1; lncRNA; spermatogenesis; spermiogenesis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Epididymis / cytology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Sperm Tail / metabolism*
  • Spermatogenesis* / genetics
  • Spermatozoa / cytology
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome


  • CABS1 protein, mouse
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins