The sperm of eutherian mammals are held in a storage reservoir in the caudal segment of the oviduct by binding to the mucosal epithelium. The reservoir serves to maintain the fertility of sperm during storage and to reduce the incidence of polyspermic fertilization. Bovine sperm bind to the epithelium via seminal vesicle secretory proteins in the bovine seminal plasma protein (BSP) family, namely, PDC109 (BSPA1/A2), BSPA3, and BSP30K, which coat the sperm head. Our objective was to identify the receptors for bull sperm on the oviductal epithelium. Proteins extracted from apical plasma membrane preparations of bovine oviductal epithelium were subjected to affinity purification using purified BSPs bound to corresponding antibodies conjugated to Protein A agarose beads. Oviductal protein bands of approximately 34 and 36 kDa were eluted by EGTA from the beads and identified by tandem mass spectrometry as annexins (ANXAs) 1, 2, 4, and 5. Subsequently, antibodies to each of the ANXAs were found to inhibit sperm binding to explants of oviductal epithelium. Anti-ANXA antibodies labeled the apical surfaces and cilia of the mucosal epithelium in sections of bovine oviduct. Western blots confirmed the presence of ANXAs in apical plasma membranes. Because fucose had been determined to be a critical component of the oviductal receptor, the ANXAs were immunoprecipitated from solubilized apical plasma membranes and were probed with Lotus tetragonolobus lectin to verify the presence of fucose. Thus, these ANXAs are strong candidates for the sperm receptors on bovine oviductal epithelium.
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Vol. 77 • No. 6