ProAKAP4 Semen Concentrations as a Valuable Marker Protein of Post-Thawed Semen Quality and Bull Fertility: A Retrospective Study

Vet Sci. 2022 May 6;9(5):224. doi: 10.3390/vetsci9050224.


Functional sperm quality markers to predict bull fertility have been actively investigated. Among them, proAKAP4, which is the precursor of AKAP4, the main structural protein in the fibrous sheath of spermatozoa; appears to be promising, especially since spermatozoa lacking AKAP4 expression were shown to be immotile, abnormal, and infertile. In this study, the objective was to evaluate proAKAP4 concentration values with the classic sperm motility descriptors and fertility outcomes (NRR at 90 days) in post-thawed conditions of 10 bulls' semen. ProAKAP4 expression was confirmed by Western blotting and proAKAP4 concentrations were determined by ELISA. Variations in proAKAP4 concentrations were observed independently of the motility sperm descriptors measured using computer-assisted semen analysis (CASA). A ProAKAP4 concentration of 38.67 ± 8.55 ng/10 million spermatozoa was obtained as a statistical mean of all samples. Threshold values of proAKAP4 were then determined between 19.96 to 96.95 ng/10 million spermatozoa. ProAKAP4 concentrations were positively correlated with progressive motility and the linearity coefficient. The sperm showing the lowest progressive motility were the samples exhibiting proAKAP4 concentrations below 20 ng/10 million spermatozoa. Furthermore, proAKAP4 concentrations were significantly higher in bulls with a higher NRR in the field. Our results demonstrate a correlation between the semen concentration of proAKAP4 and NRR-90d (p = 0.05) in post-thawed bull semen, highlighting the potential of proAKAP4 as a predictive marker of bull fertility.

Keywords: AKAP4; bull; cryopreservation; fertility; motility; proAKAP4.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.