Previously, we identified the guinea pig sperm acrosomal matrix glycoprotein AM67 and demonstrated that it is most closely related to mouse sperm sp56, initially reported to be a cell-surface protein. On the contrary, our studies demonstrated that sp56 is an intra-acrosomal component. Based upon the homology between guinea pig AM67 and mouse sp56, we hypothesized that sp56 was part of the acrosomal matrix, a structure that had yet to be demonstrated to exist in mouse sperm. In this paper, we show that sp56 first appeared in late meiotic cells and accumulated during spermiogenesis, the haploid stage of spermatogenic cell development. Using affinity-purified anti-peptide antisera, we determined that the molecular weight of sp56 in cauda epididymal sperm approximated that of guinea pig AM67 (∼67 000 Mr) and that sp56 was present in a high molecular weight, disulfide-linked complex. The forms of sp56 in pachytene spermatocytes and spermatids had higher molecular weights than was found for the sperm form; the size differences were apparently due to alterations in carbohydrate side chains. The sp56 complex could not be solubilized by the nonionic detergent Triton X-100 but remained associated with the dorsal surface of the mouse sperm head, demonstrating that sp56 is a component of the mouse sperm acrosomal matrix.
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