Sperm mitochondria undergo remodeling during posttesticular maturation that includes extensive disulfide cross-linking of proteins of the outer membrane to form the insoluble mitochondrial capsule. The relationship of these changes to mitochondrial function in mature gametes is unclear. The phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase (GPX4; also termed PHGPx) represents a major disulfide bond-stabilized protein of the mitochondrial capsule, and it is readily released by disulfide-reducing agents. However, in addition to GPX4, we detected a second major protein of 26 kDa (MP26) that was eluted from purified hamster sperm tails by the disulfide-reducing agent dithiothreitol. The objectives of the present study were to identify and characterize MP26 and to explore its potential role in mitochondrial function. Proteomic analysis of MP26 by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) identified 14 peptides with sequence identity to a member of the short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase superfamily termed P26h, which was implicated previously in hamster sperm-zona binding, and with high sequence similarity to mouse lung carbonyl reductase. Indirect immunofluorescence localized MP26 to the midpiece, and two-dimensional PAGE and immunoblot analysis identified a single MP26 isoform of pI 9.0. Immunoblot analyses of cauda epididymal fluid and of purified sperm plasma membranes and mitochondria revealed the exclusive localization of MP26 to the mitochondrial fraction. These data indicate that MP26 does not function in zona binding; instead, like GPX4, it may be associated with the mitochondrial capsule and play an important role in sperm mitochondrial function.
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