Posttranslational processing of PH-20 during epididymal sperm maturation in the horse

J. Rutllant, Stuart A Meyers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


It is generally accepted that spermatozoa become functionally mature during epididymal transit. The objective of this study was to determine whether the cellular location of equine PH-20 is modified during epididymal transit and, if so, the mechanism for such modification. Sperm were isolated from caput and cauda epididymal regions from stallions undergoing castration (n = 7) and used as whole sperm cell or subjected to nitrogen cavitation for isolation of plasma membrane proteins. Both caput and cauda sperm and sperm protein extracts were subjected to N-deglycosylation, O-deglycosylation, or trypsinization. The SDS-PAGE and Western blot analysis using a polyclonal antiequine PH-20 IgG were performed in sperm extracts, and indirect immunofluorescence on whole sperm was also performed to determine the cellular distribution of plasma membrane PH-20 following similar treatments (deglycosylation or trypsinization). Hyaluronan substrate gel electrophoresis was performed to detect hyaluronidase activity in SDS-PAGE proteins. Western blots revealed significant differences in electrophoretic migration of PH-20 proteins from caput and cauda epididymal sperm. No effect was seen from deglycosylation treatments on the Western blot pattern; caput protein extracts exposed to trypsin showed the same band pattern as extracts from the cauda epididymis. N-deglycosylation resulted in the loss of hyaluronidase activity of sperm from both epididymal regions, whereas O-deglycosylation or trypsinization did not affect hyaluronidase activity. In caput epididymal sperm, the PH-20 protein is distributed over the entire sperm head; in cauda epididymal sperm, it is restricted to the postacrosomal region. No effect from deglycosylation on the cellular distribution of PH-20 was observed; however, treatment with trypsin changed the cellular distribution of PH-20 in caput sperm similar to that of the distribution of cauda sperm. These results suggest that PH-20 distribution during epididymal maturation is dependent on proteolytic trypsin-like mechanisms and, possibly, on complementary membrane-associated factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1324-1331
Number of pages8
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001


  • Epididymis
  • Gamete biology
  • Male reproductive tract
  • Sperm maturation
  • Testis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Embryology


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