Proteomic analysis reveals dysregulated cell signaling in ejaculated spermatozoa from infertile men

Dysfunctional sperm maturation is the primary reason for the poor sperm motility and morphology in infertile men. Spermatozoa from infertile men were fractioned on three-layer density gradient (80%, 60%, and 40%). Fraction 1 (F1) refers to the least mature stage having the lowest density, whereas the fraction 4 (F4) includes the most dense and morphologically mature motile spermatozoa. Fraction 2 (F2) and fraction 3 (F3) represent the intermediate stages. Proteins were extracted and separated by 1-dimensional gel. Bands were digested with trypsin and analyzed on a LTQ-Orbitrap Elite hybrid mass spectrometer system. Functional annotations of proteins were obtained using bioinformatics tools and pathway databases. A total of 1585 proteins were detected in the four fractions of spermatozoa. A dysregulated protein turnover and protein folding may lead to accumulation of defective proteins or proteins that otherwise would have been eliminated during the process of maturation, resulting in the impairment of sperm function. Aberrant chaperone expression may be a major contributing factor to the defective sperm function. Androgen receptor was predicted as a transcription regulator in one of the networks and the affected pathways were chaperone-mediated stress response, proteosomal pathway, and sperm function. The downregulation of key pathways and proteins which compromises the fertilizing potential of spermatozoa may provide insight into the mechanisms that lead to male infertility.

Asian journal of andrology. 2018 Oct 26 [Epub ahead of print]

Luna Samanta, Rakesh Sharma, Zhihong Cui, Ashok Agarwal

American Center for Reproductive Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.

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