CYSTATIN RELATED EPIDIDYMAL SPERMATOGENIC PROTEIN RESIDES IN THE OUTER DENSE FIBRES AND LIKELY TRANSIENTLY ASSOCIATES WITH THE SURFACE OF EPIDIDYMAL MOUSE SPERMATOZOA
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Cystatin Related Epididymal Spermatogenic protein (CRES) is expressed in both the testis and epididymis and found associated with spermatozoa. It appears as non-glycosylated (14 and 12 kDa) and glycosylated isoforms (19 and 17 kDa). The role of CRES is enigmatic and dependent on localization of its isoforms, which is the objective of this study. The initial approach was to investigate testicular and epididymal origins of these isoforms by immunohistochemistry and immunogold cytochemistry. To further pinpoint CRES localization we then selectively extracted and fractionated epididymal spermatozoa in order to find by immunoblotting which sperm fractions contained CRES isoforms. Immunohistochemical analysis of mouse spermatogenesis showed that CRES was expressed in the tail cytoplasm of elongating spermatids from step 9-16, with a pattern reminiscent of outer dense fibre (ODF) proteins. Ultrastructural immunocytochemistry revealed that the immunogold label was concentrated over growing ODFs and mitochondrial sheath in the testes which persisted in spermatozoa through the epididymis. Sequential extractions of isolated sperm tails with Triton X-100-dithiothreitol (DTT) to remove the mitochondrial sheath, whose extract contained an unrelated 66 kDa immunoreactive band, followed by either sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-DTT or urea-DTT to solubilise accessory fibres of the tail revealed a 14 kDa immunoreactive band associated with the ODF. In addition, Western blots revealed glycosylated and non-glycosylated CRES isoforms in nonyl phenoxylpolyethoxylethanol (NP40) extracts of the caput, but not cauda, sperm. Immunohistochemical analysis of the caput and cauda epithelium showed that CRES is secreted by the Golgi apparatus of the ii initial segment, fills the proximal caput lumen, and disappears by mid caput. Western blots of caput and cauda tissue and luminal fluid revealed 14 and 19 kDa immunoreactive bands in caput tissues and luminal fluid, but not in the cauda. This study concludes that there are two origins of CRES, one arising in the testis and the other in the epididymis. Testicular CRES is ionically and covalently associated with the ODF while epididymal CRES is detergent soluble and is most likely associated temporarily with the surface of caput epididymal sperm.