SPAG16 is a critical structural component of motile cilia and flagella. In the eukaryotic unicellular algae Chlamydomonas, loss of gene function causes flagellar paralysis and prevents assembly of the “9 + 2” axoneme central pair. In mice, we have previously shown that loss of Spag16 gene function causes male infertility and severe sperm motility defects. We have also reported that a heterozygous mutation of the human SPAG16 gene reduces stability of the sperm axonemal central apparatus.
In the present study, we analyzed DNA samples from 60 infertile male volunteers of Western European (Italian) origin, to search for novel SPAG16 gene mutations, and to determine whether increased prevalence of SPAG16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was associated with infertility phenotypes. Semen parameters were evaluated by light microscopy and sperm morphology was comprehensively analyzed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
For gene analysis, sequences were generated covering exons encoding the conserved WD40 repeat region of the SPAG16 protein and the flanking splice junctions. No novel mutations were found, and the four SNPs in the assessed gene region were present at expected frequencies. The minor alleles were not associated with any assessed sperm parameter in the sample population.
Analysis of the SPAG16 regions encoding the conserved WD repeats revealed no evidence for association of mutations or genetic variation with sperm motility and ultrastructural sperm characteristics in a cohort of Italian infertile males.
Sperm ultrastructure; Axoneme; Motile cilia; Male infertility; Central apparatus; Semen analysis
Mouse RC/BTB2 is an unstudied protein of the RCC1 (Regulator of Chromosome Condensation) superfamily. Because of the significant remodeling of chromatin that occurs during spermiogenesis, we characterized the expression and localization of mouse RC/BTB2 in the testis and male germ cells. The Rc/btb2 gene yields two major transcripts: 2.3 kb Rc/btb2-s, present in most somatic tissues examined; and 2.5 kb Rc/btb2-t, which contains a unique non-translated exon in its 5′-UTR that is only detected in the testis. During the first wave of spermatogenesis, Rc/btb2-t mRNA is expressed from day 8 after birth, reaching highest levels of expression at day 30 after birth. The full-length protein contains three RCC1 domains in the N-terminus, and a BTB domain in the C-terminus. In the testis, the protein is detectable from day 12, but is progressively up-regulated to day 30 and day 42 after birth. In spermatids, some of the protein co-localizes with acrosomal markers sp56 and peanut lectin, indicating that it is an acrosomal protein. A GFP-tagged RCC1 domain is present throughout the cytoplasm of transfected CHO cells. However, both GFP-tagged, full-length RC/BTB2 and a GFP-tagged BTB domain localize to vesicles in close proximity to the nuclear membrane, suggesting that the BTB domain might play a role in mediating full-length RC/BTB2 localization. Since RCC1 domains associate with Ran, a small GTPase that regulates molecular trafficking, it is possible that RC/BTB2 plays a role in transporting proteins during acrosome formation.
A chondrocyte and its surrounding pericellular matrix (PCM) are defined as a chondron. Single chondrocytes and chondrons isolated from bovine articular cartilage were compressed by micromanipulation between two parallel surfaces in order to investigate their biomechanical properties and to discover the mechanical significance of the PCM. The force imposed on the cells was measured directly during compression to various deformations and then holding. When the nominal strain at the end of compression was 50 per cent, force relaxation showed that the cells were viscoelastic, but this viscoelasticity was generally insignificant when the nominal strain was 30 per cent or lower. The viscoelastic behaviour might be due to the mechanical response of the cell cytoskeleton and/or nucleus at higher deformations. A finite-element analysis was applied to simulate the experimental force-displacement/time data and to obtain mechanical property parameters of the chondrocytes and chondrons. Because of the large strains in the cells, a nonlinear elastic model was used for simulations of compression to 30 per cent nominal strain and a nonlinear viscoelastic model for 50 per cent. The elastic model yielded a Young's modulus of 14 ± 1 kPa (mean ± s.e.) for chondrocytes and 19 ± 2 kPa for chondrons, respectively. The viscoelastic model generated an instantaneous elastic modulus of 21 ± 3 and 27 ± 4 kPa, a long-term modulus of 9.3 ± 0.8 and 12 ± 1 kPa and an apparent viscosity of 2.8 ± 0.5 and 3.4 ± 0.6 kPa s for chondrocytes and chondrons, respectively. It was concluded that chondrons were generally stiffer and showed less viscoelastic behaviour than chondrocytes, and that the PCM significantly influenced the mechanical properties of the cells.
chondrocyte; chondron; finite-element modelling; micromanipulation; nonlinear elasticity; viscoelasticity
Spag16 is the murine orthologue of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii PF20, a protein known to be essential to the structure and function of the “9+2” axoneme. In Chlamydomonas, the PF20 gene encodes a single protein present in the central pair of the axoneme. Loss of PF20 prevents central pair assembly/integrity and results in flagellar paralysis. Here we demonstrate that the murine Spag16 gene encodes two proteins: 71 kDa SPAG16L, which is found in all murine cells with motile cilia or flagella, and 35 kDa SPAG16S, representing the C terminus of SPAG16L, which is expressed only in male germ cells, and is predominantly found in specific regions within the nucleus that also contain SC35, a known marker of nuclear speckles enriched in pre-mRNA splicing factors. SPAG16S expression precedes expression of SPAG16L. Mice homozygous for a knockout of SPAG16L alone are infertile, but show no abnormalities in spermatogenesis. Mice chimeric for a mutation deleting the transcripts for both SPAG16L and SPAG16S have a profound defect in spermatogenesis. We show here that transduction of SPAG16S into cultured dispersed mouse male germ cells and BEAS-2B human bronchial epithelial cells increases SPAG16L expression, but has no effect on the expression of several other axoneme components. We also demonstrate that the Spag16L promoter shows increased activity in the presence of SPAG16S. The distinct nuclear localization of SPAG16S and its ability to modulate Spag16L mRNA expression suggest that SPAG16S plays an important role in the gene expression machinery of male germ cells. This is a unique example of a highly conserved axonemal protein gene that encodes two protein products with different functions.
The Spag16L gene codes for a protein that is localized to the central apparatus which is essential for normal sperm motility and male fertility. Sperm from mice homozygous for a targeted deletion of the Spag16L gene were examined to assess their flagellar motor functions compared with age- and strain-matched control sperm. Sperm were also demembranated with Triton X-100 and examined for their ability to respond to free calcium, as well as for their ability to undergo microtubule sliding driven by dynein action. In addition, the passive flagella, inhibited by sodium metavanadate to disable the dyneins, were examined for mechanical abnormalities. Live Spag16L-null sperm exhibited much less bending of the flagellum during the beat. The amount of microtubule sliding in the R-bend direction of the beat was selectively restricted, which suggests that there is limited activation of the dyneins on one side of the axoneme in the live cells. This is corroborated by the results on detergent-extracted sperm models. The flagellar response to calcium is greatly reduced. The calcium response requires the activation of the dyneins on outer doublets 1, 2, 3, and 4. These are the same dyneins required for R-bend formation. In axonemes prepared to disintegrate by microtubule sliding, we observed little or no extrusion of doublets 1 and 2, consistent with a reduced activity of their dyneins. This deficit in motor function, and an increased rigidity of the midpiece region which we detected in the passive flagella, together can explain the observed motility characteristics of the Spag16L-null sperm.
Mouse sperm lacking SPAG16L have altered motility and a reduced response to calcium.
axoneme; calcium; central pair; ciliopathies; dynein; hyperactivation
Overexpression of sphingosine kinase-1 (SPHK1) has been demonstrated to be associated with the development and progression in various types of human cancers. The current study was to characterize the expression of SPHK1 in salivary gland carcinomas (SGC) and to investigate the association between SPHK1 expression and progression of SGC.
The expression of SPHK1 was examined in 2 normal salivary gland tissues, 8 SGC tissues of various clinical stages, and 5 pairs of primary SGC and adjacent salivary gland tissues from the same patient, using real-time PCR and western blot analysis. Furthermore, the SPHK1 protein expression was analyzed in 159 clinicopathologically characterized SGC cases by immunohistochemistry. Statistical analyses were performed to determine the prognostic and diagnostic associations.
SPHK1 expression was found to be markedly upregulated in SGC tissues than that in the normal salivary gland tissues and paired adjacent salivary gland tissues, at both mRNA and protein levels. Statistical analysis revealed a significant correlation of SPHK1 expression with the clinical stage (P = 0.005), T classification (P = 0.017), N classification (P = 0.009), M classification (P = 0.002), and pathological differentiation (P = 0.013). Patients with higher SPHK1 expression had shorter overall survival time, whereas patients with lower SPHK1 expression had better survival. Importantly, patients in the group without adjuvant therapy who exhibited high SPHK1 expression had significantly lower overall survival rates compared with those with low SPHK1 expression. Moreover, multivariate analysis suggested that SPHK1 expression might be an independent prognostic indicator for the survival of SGC patients.
Our results suggest that SPHK1 expression is associated with SGC progression, and might represent as a novel and valuable predictor for adjuvant therapy to SGC patients.
SOX5 is a transcription factor with homology to the high mobility group box region of the testis-determining factor, SRY. Both the mouse and human SOX5 genes encode a 48-kDa SOX5 protein (S-SOX5) that is only present in tissues containing cells with motile cilia/flagella. The mammalian sperm-associated antigen 6 gene (SPAG6) encodes an axoneme central apparatus protein. Because human and mouse SPAG6 gene promoters contain multiple potential binding sites for SOX5, SPAG6 gene regulation by S-SOX5 was investigated in BEAS-2B cells, a line derived from human bronchial cells. Like FOXJ1, a transcription factor known to be essential for motile ciliogenesis, S-SOX5 stimulated mouse and human SPAG6 promoter function in BEAS-2B cells, but the effect was abrogated when the SOX5 binding sites were mutated or deleted. S-SOX5 and FOXJ1 functioned cooperatively in stimulating SPAG6 promoter activity. The SPAG6 message was up-regulated when S-SOX5 was overexpressed in BEAS-2B cells, and silencing of S-SOX5 by RNA interference down-regulated SPAG6 transcripts. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and EMSA experiments demonstrated that S-SOX5 associates with the SPAG6 promoter directly. The present study demonstrates that SPAG6 is a S-SOX5 target gene, indicating a key role for S-SOX5 in the formation and function of motile cilia.
DNA-Protein Interaction; Gene Regulation; Promoters; Site-directed Mutagenesis; Sperm; Central Apparatus; Motile Cilia; SOX5; SPAG6; Transcription Regulation
Mammalian SPAG16L, the orthologue of Chlamydomonas Pf20, is an axoneme central apparatus protein necessary for flagellar motility. The SPAG16L protein sequence contains multiple potential phosphorylation sites and the protein was confirmed to be phosphorylated in vivo. A yeast-two-hybrid screen identified the testis-specific kinase, TSSK2, to be a potential SPAG16L binding partner. SPAG16L and TSSK2 interactions were confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation of both proteins from testis extracts and cell lysates expressing these proteins, and their co-localization was also noted by confocal microscopy in CHO cells where they were co-expressed. TSSK2 associates with SPAG16L via its C terminal domain bearing WD repeats. The N-terminal domain containing a coiled coil motif does not associate with TSSK2. SPAG16L can be phosphorylated by TSSK2 in vitro. Finally, TSSK2 is absent or markedly reduced from the testes in most of the SPAG16L null mice. These data support the conclusion that SPAG16L is a TSSK2 substrate.
SPAG16L; kinase; phosphorylation; sperm motility
Targeted deletion of Tssk1 & 2 resulted in male chimeras which produced sperm/spermatogenic cells bearing the mutant allele, however this allele was never transmitted to offspring, indicating infertility due to haploinsufficiency. Morphological defects in chimeras included failure to form elongated spermatids, apoptosis of spermatocytes and spermatids, and the appearance of numerous round cells in the epididymal lumen. Characterization of TSSK2 and its interactions with the substrate, TSKS, were further investigated in human and mouse. The presence of both kinase and substrate in testis was confirmed, while persistence of both proteins in spermatozoa was revealed for the first time. In vivo binding interactions between TSSK2 and TSKS were established through co-immunoprecipitation of TSSK2/TSKS complexes from both human sperm and mouse testis extracts. A role for the human TSKS N-terminus in enzyme binding was defined by deletion mapping. TSKS immunoprecipitated from both mouse testis and human sperm extracts was actively phosphorylated. Ser285 was identified as a phosphorylation site in mouse TSKS. These results confirm both TSSK 2 and TSKS persist in sperm, define the critical role of TSKS′ N-terminus in enzyme interaction, identify Ser 285 as a TSKS phosphorylation site and indicate an indispensable role for TSSK 1 & 2 in spermiogenesis.
Haploinsufficiency; infertility; gene targeting deletion; TSSK1; TSSK2; TSKS; spermatozoa; protein interaction; protein phosphorylation
Centrosomal coiled-coil proteins paired with kinases play critical roles in centrosomal functions within somatic cells, however knowledge regarding gamete centriolar proteins is limited. In this study, the substrate of TSSK1 & 2, TSKS, was localized during spermiogenesis to the centrioles of post-meiotic spermatids, where it reached its greatest concentration during the period of flagellogenesis. This centriolar localization persisted in ejaculated human spermatozoa, while centriolar TSKS diminished in mouse sperm, where centrioles are known to undergo complete degeneration. In addition to the centriolar localization during flagellogenesis, mouse TSKS and the TSSK2 kinase localized in the tail and acrosomal regions of mouse epididymal sperm, while TSSK2 was found in the equatorial segment, neck and the midpiece of human spermatozoa. TSSK2/TSKS is the first kinase/substrate pair localized to the centrioles of spermatids and spermatozoa. Coupled with the infertility due to haploinsufficiency noted in chimeric mice with deletion of TSSK 1 & 2 (companion paper) this centriolar kinase/substrate pair is predicted to play an indispensable role during spermiogenesis.
TSSK2; TSKS; Centriole; Spermatid; Spermatozoa; Spermiogenesis; Flagellogenesis
cDNAs were cloned for the murine and human orthologues of Chlamydomonas PF20, a component of the alga axoneme central apparatus that is required for flagellar motility. The mammalian genes encode transcripts of 1.4 and 2.5 kb that are highly expressed in testis. The two transcripts appear to arise from alternative transcription start sites. The murine Pf20 gene was mapped to chromosome 1, syntenic with the location of the human gene on chromosome 2. An antibody generated against an N-terminal sequence of mouse Pf20 recognized a 71-kDa protein in sperm and testis extracts. Immunocytochemistry localized Pf20 to the tails of permeabilized sperm; electron microscope immunocytochemistry showed that Pf20 was located in the axoneme central apparatus. A murine Pf20-green fluorescent protein fusion protein expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells accumulated in the cytoplasm. When coexpressed with Spag6, the mammalian orthologue of Chlamydomonas PF16, Pf20 was colocalized with Spag6 on polymerized microtubules. Yeast two-hybrid assays demonstrated interaction of the Pf20 WD repeats with Spag6. Pf20 was markedly reduced in sperm collected from mice lacking Spag6, which are infertile due to a motility defect. Our observations provide the first evidence for an association between mammalian orthologues of two Chlamydomonas proteins known to be critical for axoneme structure and function.