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1 January 2003 Cloning and Characterization of a Novel Sperm-Associated Isoantigen (E-3) with Defensin- and Lectin-Like Motifs Expressed in Rat Epididymis
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In the present study we report the identification of a novel epididymis-specific secretory glycoprotein, E-3, which is a sperm-associated isoantigen containing defensin- and lectin-like motifs. E-3 was detected in rat epididymal fluid and in sperm extracts by two-dimensional (2-D) Western blotting using rat hyperimmune sera raised against rat sperm. The immunoreactive spot of approximately 28 kDa with an isoelectric point (pI) of 3.5 was cored from silver-stained gels. Microsequencing by tandem mass spectrometry and database searches revealed several peptides to be novel sequences. Degenerate deoxyinosine-containing primers corresponding to the novel peptides were used in rapid amplification of cDNA ends and polymerase chain reaction to clone E-3 from a rat epididymal cDNA library. A 449-base pair nucleotide sequence was subsequently obtained consisting of a complete open reading frame (ORF) of 111 amino acids, which showed similarity to the defensin and lectin families. The first 21 amino acids constituted a putative signal peptide, suggesting that E-3 is a secretory protein. Mature E-3 protein corresponding to amino acids 22–111 was expressed in E. coli, and chickens were immunized with recombinant E-3 (rE-3). The resulting anti-rE-3 antisera recognized the recombinant immunogen as well as a “native” protein of 28 kDa, pI 2.5–3.5 in both epididymal fluid and in sperm extracts on 2-D Western blots. Northern hybridization indicated that E-3 mRNA was present in the epididymis but not in testis or other tissues, and that E-3 mRNA was predominantly expressed in the corpus and cauda of the epididymis, but not in the initial segment or caput. Similarly, Western blots detected the E-3 protein only in the epididymal fluid and sperm from the corpus and caudal regions. Finally, indirect immunofluorescence localized E-3 on the entire tail, and with less intensity on the head of the sperm. These observations indicate that E-3 is a secreted epididymal protein that becomes associated with the sperm as it transits through the corpus and cauda. The presence of a defensin-like motif suggests that E-3 may play a role in protecting the sperm from microbial infections in the epididymis and in the female reproductive tract.

Jayasimha Rao, John C. Herr, P. Prabhakara Reddi, Michael J. Wolkowicz, Leigh Ann Bush, Nicholas E. Sherman, Michael Black, and Charles J. Flickinger "Cloning and Characterization of a Novel Sperm-Associated Isoantigen (E-3) with Defensin- and Lectin-Like Motifs Expressed in Rat Epididymis," Biology of Reproduction 68(1), 290-301, (1 January 2003).
Received: 5 June 2002; Accepted: 1 August 2002; Published: 1 January 2003

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