The degradation of sperm-borne mitochondria after fertilization is a conserved event. This process known as post-fertilization sperm mitophagy, ensures exclusively maternal inheritance of the mitochondria-harbored mitochondrial DNA genome. This mitochondrial degradation is in part carried out by the ubiquitin proteasome system. In mammals, ubiquitin-binding pro-autophagic receptors such as SQSTM1 and GABARAP have also been shown to contribute to sperm mitophagy. These systems work in concert to ensure the timely degradation of the sperm-borne mitochondria after fertilization. We hypothesize that other receptors, cofactors, and substrates are involved in post-fertilization mitophagy. Mass spectrometry was used in conjunction with a porcine cell-free system to identify other autophagic cofactors involved in post-fertilization sperm mitophagy. This porcine cell-free system is able to recapitulate early fertilization proteomic interactions. Altogether, 185 proteins were identified as statistically different between control and cell-free treated spermatozoa. Six of these proteins were further investigated, including MVP, PSMG2, PSMA3, FUNDC2, SAMM50, and BAG5. These proteins were phenotyped using porcine in vitro fertilization, cell imaging, proteomics, and the porcine cell-free system. The present data confirms the involvement of known mitophagy determinants in the regulation of mitochondrial inheritance and provides a master list of candidate mitophagy co-factors to validate in the future hypothesis-driven studies.
This important work reports the identification of a list of proteins that may participate in the clearance of paternal mitochondria during fertilization, which is known as essential for normal fertilization and embryonic and fetal development. While the main method used is state of the art and the supporting data are solid, the vigor of the biochemical assays and function validation is inadequate. This work will be of interest to developmental and reproductive biologists working on fertilization.
Mitochondria are specialized cellular organelles which serve as the powerhouses of the cell. Mitochondria have been designated as such because of the large amounts of adenosine 5’-triphosphate (ATP) which they generate through both the TCA cycle as well as the electron transport chain. Additionally, mitochondria play roles in various cellular signaling pathways, serve as a calcium ion storage structure, help regulate cellular metabolism (McBride, Neuspiel, & Wasiak, 2006), and can signal for apoptosis (Hajnóczky et al., 2006). Mitochondria are also unique among cellular organelles because they house their own genome distinct from that of the nuclear DNA. This DNA is referred to as mitochondrial or mtDNA. The mtDNA encodes for 13 proteins which are used within the electron transport chain, as well as 22 tRNAs, and 2 rRNAs (Anderson et al., 1981). Mitochondria and the mtDNA which they harbor are almost exclusively inherited from the maternal lineage in most animal species, including humans. This pattern of maternal inheritance results in a single haplotype of the mtDNA being present in offspring.
This pattern of maternal inheritance results in most individual animals inheriting one mitochondrial genome from their mothers. Though naturally occurring maternally derived heteroplasmy (the presence of two distinct populations of mtDNA haplotypes) caused by mutations of the mitochondrial genome is observed (McFarland, Taylor, & Turnbull, 2007), heteroplasmy caused by the inheritance of the father’s mtDNA is very rare (Luo et al., 2018Schwartz & Vissing, 2002). Furthermore, in laboratory settings, researchers have been able to cause heteroplasmy in mice (Sharpley et al., 2012). These heteroplasmic mice were both mentally and physiologically insufficient when compared to their homoplasmic counterparts. The nematode roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans has also been utilized in this area of research. These worms were given a specific mtDNA deletion which caused the entire population to become heteroplasmic. It was found that embryonic lethality was 23-fold higher; they had reduced metabolic rates, and the males experienced reduced sperm mobility in this population of worms when compared to homoplasmic counterparts (Liau, Gonzalez-Serricchio, Deshommes, Chin, & LaMunyon, 2007). Thus, in both laboratory animal populations, heteroplasmy was shown to be detrimental. It has also been observed that this mtDNA maternal inheritance pattern has been naturally violated in some human offspring (Luo et al., 2018Schwartz & Vissing, 2002Slone et al., 2020). Several multigenerational families have been identified with various forms of paternal mtDNA leakage. In the case of these studies, the heteroplasmy was identified because one of the family members had a mitochondrial disease. Though some of the relatives seemed to carry benign levels of paternal heteroplasmy, other family members were not so fortunate. Again, showing that when paternal mitochondria are not eliminated, it appears to eventually result in reduced health and fitness outcomes.
The paternal, sperm-borne mitochondria are located on the midpiece of the sperm tail, within a structure known as the mitochondrial sheath. This sheath organizes mitochondria into a compact helical configuration and in the livestock mammalian species, this sheath contains 50 to 75 mitochondria (Ankel-Simons & Cummins, 1996). This mitochondrial sheath structure is quickly degraded from the fertilizing spermatozoa upon entry into the oocyte cytoplasm in a process known as post-fertilization sperm mitophagy. This mitophagic process is a nuanced autophagic and proteasome-dependent degradation of the mitochondria. It has been shown that ubiquitin associates with the sperm mitochondria in primate, ruminant, and rodent oocyte cytoplasm (P. (Sutovsky et al., 1999)). It has also been demonstrated that the ubiquitination of sperm mitochondria takes place in the porcine zygote, where the effect of proteasomal inhibitors on sperm mitophagy was described for the first time and resulted in implicating the ubiquitin proteasome system as a pivotal part of this mitophagic process (Sutovsky, McCauley, Sutovsky, & Day, 2003Sutovsky, 2004). More recently, studies using Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila revisited the concept of ubiquitin-dependent post-fertilization sperm mitophagy, with a focus on the autophagic branch of this complex pathway (Al Rawi et al., 2011Politi et al., 2014Sato & Sato, 2011Zhou, Li, & Xue, 2011). Much of the data from this research has focused on a handful of autophagic proteins. These proteins included sequestosome 1 (SQSTM1), GABA type A receptor-associated protein (GABARAP), microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3α (LC3), and valosin-containing protein (VCP). Further research has shown synergistic efforts between SQSTM1, GABARAP, and VCP in porcine sperm mitophagy (W. H. (Song, Yi, Sutovsky, Meyers, & Sutovsky, 2016)). To build upon this research, a better understanding of the potential co-factors, substrates, other proteins, and other pathways involved in post-fertilization sperm mitophagy is necessary.
The porcine cell-free system used in the present study is designed to recapitulate early fertilization proteomic interactions which would take place upon the incorporation of the spermatozoa into the ooplasm. It is a powerful tool that was used in this study (W. H. (Song & Sutovsky, 2018)), adapted from a similar amphibian system utilizing the eggs of an African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis (Miyamoto et al., 2007Miyamoto et al., 2009Sutovsky, Simerly, Hewitson, & Schatten, 1998). Our porcine system utilizes small porcine oocytes (100 µm diameter) matured in vitro, instead of very large, easy to harvest frog eggs (1.2 mm diameter). Compared to other mammalian models, porcine oocytes are relatively easy to collect and mature (to fertilization-ready metaphase II stage) in large quantities. Furthermore, the timing of post-fertilization sperm mitophagy in porcine zygotes is favorable as it occurs prior to the 1st embryo cleavage (Sutovsky et al., 2003); thus, this system can be utilized to study post-fertilization sperm mitophagy in a shorter time span and without interfering with the established role of the ubiquitin-proteasome system in cell division, a feat that would be more complicated in a bovine embryo where the post-fertilization sperm mitophagy occurs between the 2 and 4 cell stage (Peter (Sutovsky et al., 1999)). Furthermore, Xenopus egg extracts do not lend themselves to the study of mammalian sperm mitophagy as it is a species-specific recognition and degradation process. To prepare oocyte extracts for this system, MII oocytes are denuded of their cumulus cells and zona pellucida, then placed in an extraction buffer and subjected to three rounds of flash freezing followed by thawing to disrupt their cellular membranes. At that point, the oocytes are centrifuged at high speed to be crushed, and the supernatant present is collected. This oocyte extract contains cytoplasmic proteins and some of the lysosomal and autophagosomal membrane fractions that participate in mitophagy. The paternal component of this cell-free system is represented by boar spermatozoa primed through a demembranating treatment with lysophosphatidylcholine (lysolecithin) followed by disulfide bond reduction via dithiothreitol (DTT), a stepwise treatment which removes the plasma and outer acrosomal membranes of the spermatozoa and destabilizes the structural sperm proteins in a fashion similar to sperm demembranation during sperm-oocyte fusion and disulfide bond reduction in the sperm head and tail at the time of sperm incorporation in the oocyte cytoplasm. Thus, this chemical demembranation and destabilization is used to replicate in vivo spermatozoa processing during natural fertilization. These primed spermatozoa are then co-incubated with the oocyte extract for 4 to 24 hours and early fertilization-specific proteomic interactions can be recapitulated. The porcine cell-free system allows us to observe thousands of spermatozoa interacting with ooplasmic proteins in a single trial, thus overcoming the limiting factor of one spermatozoon per fertilized egg, as seen in in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) protocols. This cell-free system has been previously shown to recapitulate fertilization sperm mitophagy events which take place in a zygote (W.-H. (Song et al., 2021); W. H. (Song & Sutovsky, 2018)).
In this study, the porcine cell-free system was used in conjunction with MADLI-TOF mass spectrometry to conduct a quantitative investigation of early fertilization proteomics (Fig. 1). Two different trials were conducted each containing biological triplicates and based on this data an inventory of 185 proteins (p<0.1) of potential interest in the context of post-fertilization sperm mitophagy was compiled. Six of these proteins were further investigated, including major vault protein (MVP), proteasomal assembly chaperone 2 (PSMG2), proteasomal subunit alpha 3 (PSMA3), FUN14 domain-containing protein 2 (FUNDC2), sorting and assembly machinery component 50 (SAMM50), and BAG family molecular chaperone regulator 5 (BAG5). These six proteins were considered candidate mitophagy proteins of interest based on their known functions in established autophagy-related pathways. The investigation was an attempt to understand these proteins in more detail than what was extrapolated from the mass spectrometry data. We once again used the porcine cell-free system, but this time in conjunction with immunocytochemistry (ICC) and Western blotting (WB), to characterize the localization and modification changes these proteins underwent within the system. Furthermore, we investigated these proteins in zygotes after IVF to characterize their localization patterns during in vitro fertilization.
Quantitative Proteomics with the Cell-Free System
MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry was used to analyze spermatozoa which were exposed to the porcine cell-free system. The goal of this mass spectrometry trial was to capture changes in protein quantities between control primed spermatozoa samples (no extract exposure) and cell-free system treated sperm samples. Vehicle control sperm samples were also submitted, as were samples of oocyte extract. A workflow diagram of the study is shown in Figure 1. Three biological replicates of this trial were submitted to compare primed control vs cell-free treated sperm after 4 hours of cell-free system co-incubation; separately, three biological replicates were submitted to compare primed control vs cell-free treated spermatozoa after 24 hours of cell-free system co-incubation. During both trials, 3 biological replicates of vehicle control sperm and oocyte extract were submitted as well. Raw data captured from mass spectrometry was referenced against the Sus scrofa UniProt Knowledge base, thus capturing an inventory of proteins present in each sample and their relative abundance. The samples were normalized based on the content of outer dense fiber protein 1, 2, and 3 and then subjected to statistical analysis. The primed control and cell-free treated sperm samples were statistically compared by using a paired T-test. This T-test compared the relative normalized protein abundance between the primed control and cell-free treated samples. A P-value of 0.2 (class 1), or 0.1 (class 2 and 3) was considered statistically relevant for the purpose of this study.
After T-test analysis in the 4-hour trial, 138 proteins were found to undergo changes (p<0.1) in abundance between the primed control vs. cell-free treated spermatozoa. In the 24-hour trial, 56 proteins were (p<0.1) different in abundance between the primed control and cell-free treated spermatozoa. Of these significant proteins from each trial, 14 overlapped, resulting in a total of 180 statistically different proteins identified between the two trials. Between the two trials, 24 proteins were only found in cell-free treated sperm samples and were not present in the primed control samples. These proteins were assumed to be proteins from the oocyte extract which remained bound to spermatozoa after extract co-incubation. For proteins that followed this pattern, we loosened our statistical parameters and included proteins in our inventory out to p<0.2. In the 4-hour trial, this resulted in 6 more proteins being included, and in the 24-hour trial, this resulted in 7 additional proteins. Of these 13 proteins, 8 overlapped; thus, this inclusion step added 5 more proteins to our inventory for a grand total of 185 proteins. The 4-hour inventory ultimately included 144 proteins of interest (Table 1), whereas the 24-hour inventory contained 63 proteins of interest (Table 2). These inventories had an overlap of 22 proteins. The full data sheets including all reps for the 4- and 24-hour trials as well as the normalizations and T-test analyses can be found in Table S1.
Both the 4-hour and 24-hour protein inventories were divided into three different classes. Class 1 proteins were detected only in the oocyte extract (absent in the vehicle control and primed control spermatozoa) and found on the spermatozoa only after extract co-incubation. These proteins are interpreted as ooplasmic mitophagy receptors/determinants and nuclear/centrosomal remodeling factors. Class 2 proteins were detected in the primed control spermatozoa but increased in the spermatozoa exposed to cell-free system co-incubation. Class 3 proteins were present in both the gametes or only the primed control spermatozoa, but are decreased in the spermatozoa after co-incubation, interpreted as sperm borne mitophagy determinants and/or sperm-borne proteolytic substrates of the oocyte autophagic system. These protein inventories, sorted by class for both the 4- and 24-hour trials, can be found in Tables 1 and 2, respectively.
The functions of all the proteins added to these inventories were manually searched and categorized by using the UniProt Knowledgebase as well as PubMed literature search. Based on known functions, all proteins were categorized, and pie charts were rendered (Figure 2A-F). It should be noted that our Mass Spectrometry generated data was analyzed for proteins by using the UniProt Knowledgebase and was only analyzed for known Sus scrofa proteins.
Investigation of candidate proteins in the porcine cell-free system
Six candidate proteins were selected from the mass spectrometry results for further investigation. These six proteins were MVP, PSMG2, PSMA3, FUNDC2, SAMM50, and BAG5. Western blot detection and immunocytochemistry were used to describe the presence and localization patterns of these candidate proteins in ejaculated, primed, and cell-free treated spermatozoa. Furthermore, immunocytochemistry was used to observe the localization of these proteins in in vitro derived porcine zygotes. Oocytes were fertilized with spermatozoa pre-labeled with MitoTracker so that mitochondrial sheaths could be detected. These oocytes, now presumed zygotes, were then collected at 15 and 25 hours post insemination (sperm and oocytemixing). These time points were selected to ensure that post-fertilization sperm mitophagy was well underway in the zygotes at both timepoints. Furthermore, the 25 hour time point was selected to observe the advanced stages of mitophagy post-gamete mixing. These presumed zygotes were then fixed and stained for immunocytochemistry.
Major vault protein was identified as a Class 1 protein of interest in our MS trials. It was not identified in vehicle control spermatozoa or primed control sperm samples. However, it was identified in oocyte extracts and in spermatozoa exposed to the cell-free system at both the 4- and 24-hour times points. Upon further investigation we confirmed that MVP was not detected in ejaculated spermatozoa by using both Western blotting and immunocytochemistry detection methods (Figure 3A, B). Additionally, after priming the spermatozoa, MVP was still not detected (Figure 3C). However, consistent with MS observations, MVP was detected on the tails of treated spermatozoa after both 4 and 24 hours of cell-free system exposure (Figure 3D, E). In zygotes 15 hours post insemination MVP was detected abundantly in the cytoplasm as reported previously (Sutovsky et al., 2005) though it did not appear to be associating with forming male pronuclei (PN) or with the mitochondrial sheaths of the fertilizing spermatozoa (Figure 3F). At 25 hours post insemination, MVP was still detectable in the cytoplasm of the zygote and did appear to have colocalization on the MS of the fertilizing spermatozoa (Figure 3G).
During our MS trials, proteasome assembly chaperone 2 was identified as a Class 2 protein during the 24-hour trial. PSMG2 was found to undergo a significant increase in abundance after 24 hours in the cell-free system (p=0.088). However, during the 4-hour trial, PSMG2 increased during two of the replicates but underwent a decrease in one of the replicates and was thus not found to be significant. PSMG2 was detected in ejaculated spermatozoa via WB (Figure 4A) and found to localize to the acrosome of ejaculated spermatozoa (Figure 4B). After priming, PSMG2 was still detected in the head of spermatozoa (Figure 4C). After 4 hours of cell-free system co-incubation PSMG2 was detected in both the head and principal piece of the sperm tail. (Figure 4D). After 24 hours of cell-free system exposure, this tail localization was no longer present and PSMG2 is found only on the partially decondensed (as a result of oocyte extract inducing sperm nucleus remodeling) heads of the spermatozoa (Figure 4E). When observed in zygotes 15 hours post insemination PSMG2 had begun to cluster around the newly forming paternal, sperm-derived pronuclei (Figure 4F). At 25 hours post insemination, a robust cluster of PSMG2 was detected surrounding the male pronuclei and on the mitochondrial sheath of the fertilizing spermatozoa (Figure 4G).
Proteasome subunit alpha 3 significantly increased (p=0.015) during the 4-hour MS trials and was categorized as a Class 2 protein. During our 24-hour MS trial, PSMA3 was found to undergo an increase during two of the replicates but displayed a decrease in one of the replicates. PSMA3 was detected in ejaculated spermatozoa by using both WB (Figure 5A) and immunocytochemistry detection (Figure 5B); it was found to localize to the acrosome of the ejaculated spermatozoa. After priming, PSMA3 was found in the tail of the spermatozoa, including midpiece and principal piece (Figure 5C). This localization pattern persisted after 4 hours of cell-free system exposure (Figure 5D). After 24 hours of cell-free system exposure, PSMA3 was still detected throughout the tail but with a more focused/prevalent localization pattern on the MS (Figure 5E). In zygotes 15 hours post insemination PSMA3 clustered around the nascent paternal pronuclei and on the mitochondrial sheath of the fertilizing spermatozoa (Figure 5F). This same localization pattern persisted 25 hours post insemination and PSMA3 continued to cluster near the male and female pronuclei and on the MS of fertilizing spermatozoa (Figure 5G).
FUN14 domain-containing protein 2, a Class 3 protein in our classification, was observed to undergo a significant decrease in abundance after 4 hours of cell-free system exposure (p=0.084). No significant change in the abundance of FUNDC2 was detected during the 24-hour trial. During our 24-hour MS trial, FUNDC2 was found to undergo a reduction during two of the replicates but displayed a slight increase in one of the replicates. FUNDC2 was detected in ejaculated spermatozoa via WB detection (Figure 6A). In ejaculated spermatozoa, FUNDC2 was detected in the acrosome and equatorial segment of the sperm head and was confined to MS within the sperm tail (Figure 6B). After sperm capacitation, FUNDC2 changed its localization and was found primarily in the apical ridge of the acrosome but also in the MS (Figure 6C). After the removal of disulfide bonds via priming, FUNDC2 was predominantly detected in the MS of primed spermatozoa compared to ejaculated and capacitated spermatozoa and was still detected on the remnants of the acrosome (Figure 6D). Upon 4 hours of cell-free system exposure, FUNDC2 was found to localize throughout the entire tail of the spermatozoa (Figure 6E). Interestingly, after 24 hours of cell free system exposure, FUNDC2 was again confined to the MS of the spermatozoa but appeared to have a fractured pattern, perhaps revealing the remaining mostly intact mitochondria or vice versa, i.e., it may be localized to those mitochondria which have undergone the greatest degree degradation at this time point (Figure 6F).
FUNDC2 was not detected on or near the fertilizing spermatozoa at 15 hours post insemination (Figure 6G); in contrast FUNDC2 was still detected in the head and tail of a spermatozoa bound to the zona pellucida of a zygote at the same time point (Figure 6H). FUNDC2 was also not observed localizing on or near the fertilizing spermatozoa at 25 hours post insemination but was detected in non-fertilizing, zona bound spermatozoa at the same time point (Figure 6I,J).
Sorting and assembly machinery component 50 was observed to undergo a significant decrease in abundance during the 4-hour MS trial (p=0.035), classifying it as a Class 3 protein. This decrease in abundance was not observed during the 24-hour MS trial wherein SAMM50 underwent a reduction within two of the replicates but underwent a slight increase in one of the replicates. SAMM50 was detected in spermatozoa via WB and immunocytochemistry (Figure 7A and B); it was found to localize to the acrosome and MS of the sperm tail. After priming, this same localization pattern persisted on the MS and in what remained of the acrosome and appeared to localize to the principal piece as well (Figure 7C). After 4 hours of co-incubation within the cell-free system, SAMM50 was completely removed from the remnants of the acrosome, but still found throughout the tail with the greatest density of localization on the MS as seen in primed spermatozoa as well, due to acrosome removal by priming (Figure 7D). This same localization pattern was observed after 24 hours of cell-free system co-incubation (Figure 7E). During our zygote trial, SAMM50 was observed localizing on and near the MS of the fertilizing spermatozoa at 15 hours post insemination (Figure 7F). SAMM50 was also detected 25 hours post insemination localizing to the principal piece of the fertilizing spermatozoa, but no longer on the MS (Figure 7G).
Based on quantitative proteomics, BAG family molecular chaperone regulator 5 underwent a decrease in abundance during the 4-hour MS trial (p=0.02). However, this level of significance was not observed during the 24-hour MS trial. During our 24-hour MS trial, BAG5 underwent a reduction during two of the replicates but a slight increase in one of the replicates. Upon further investigation, BAG5 was detected by Western blotting (Figure 8A) and immunocytochemistry (Figure 8B) in fresh ejaculated spermatozoa, where it was localized exclusively to the acrosome. After priming, BAG5 was only detectable in the remains of the acrosome and weakly on the sperm tail (Figure 8C). After 4 hours of co-incubation within the cell-free system, BAG5 was no longer detected on the head of the spermatozoa but became detectable on the MS of the spermatozoa (Figure 8D). Likewise, after 24 hours of co-incubation within the cell-free system, this same BAG5 localization to the MS remained(Figure 8E). BAG5 was not observed localizing on the fertilizing spermatozoa 15 hours post insemination, though BAG5 did appear to be present in the cytoplasm of the zygote (Figure 8F). In zygotes at 25 hours post insemination, BAG5 was still not observed on the fertilizing spermatozoa, but remained present within the cytoplasm of the zygote (Figure 8G).
In the last decade, considerable effort has been put forth to better understand the autophagic pathway’s involvement in mitochondrial inheritance (Al Rawi et al., 2011Politi et al., 2014Sato & Sato, 2011Song et al., 2016Zhou et al., 2011). Much headway has been made; however, the knowledge gaps surrounding this post-fertilization sperm mitophagy process remain wide. For example, at present, it is not understood what determines species specificity or timing of sperm mitophagy. It has been observed that mammalian interspecies crosses retain the paternal mitochondria in F1 generation and become heteroplasmic as a result (Kaneda et al., 1995Shitara, Hayashi, Takahama, Kaneda, & Yonekawa, 1998Sutovsky et al., 1999). The timing of mitochondrial degradation in embryos also varies between species (Reviewed in (Zuidema & Sutovsky, 2019)). Additionally, many protein cofactors, substrates, and autophagic pathways which act within the post-fertilization mitophagic process remain to be identified. This area of research has relied on studies with mammalian oocytes and zygotes. This led to the development of our species-specific mammalian cell-free system (W. H. (Song & Sutovsky, 2018)). This system was developed to provide a new tool for the study of post-fertilization sperm mitophagy and other early fertilization events. Specifically, the use of this system in conjunction with quantitative mass spectrometry was a type of study which has never been attempted before, even though it is becoming increasingly popular to investigate sperm proteomes by using quantitative proteomic analyses(Baker et al., 2007Martínez-Heredia, Estanyol, Ballescà, & Oliva, 2006Pilatz et al., 2014Zhang et al., 2022). Attempting to identify ooplasmic proteins which bind to spermatozoa at fertilization and those sperm proteins which begin degrading during fertilization by using mass spectrometry would be exceedingly difficult by using zygotes. This is because post-fertilization sperm mitophagy takes place within the oocyte cytoplasm and the ability to identify the differences in those proteins which are found in the sperm or binding the sperm surface from the rest of the oocyte proteome would be extremely challenging/impossible since we are not yet able to reliably map and quantify single cell proteomes. However, our cell-free system presents a unique tool which can be used to capture number of the early proteomic changes which take place specifically on the fertilizing spermatozoa; this cell-free system has been previously shown to mimic some early fertilization events (W.-H. (Song et al., 2021); W. H. (Song & Sutovsky, 2018)). Thus, we could expect other proteomic events of early fertilization to be mimicked within our cell-free system. By using high-resolution mass spectrometry, we captured differences in relative protein abundance between primed control spermatozoa and cell-free treated spermatozoa. Furthermore, we captured this data at two different time points, i.e. after 4 hours and 24 hours of co-incubation within the cell-free system. Furthermore, we identified proteins of interest which can be further explored by using more targeted sperm phenotype studies.
This study was constrained to two time points, which allows for some temporal differences to be captured, but the differences over time in this cell-free system could be immense and the differences in the protein inventories compiled for each time point may be indicative of this. Furthermore, this cell-free system while useful does not perfectly capture all the events which take place during in vivo fertilization. The cell-free system is intended to mimic early fertilization events but is presumably not the exact same as in vitro fertilization. Furthermore, this study only captures changes in protein abundance. Proteins which remain at relatively stable abundances but undergo changes in localization and/or modification resulting in altered biological activity would not be captured by the parameters set forth in this study, but expectedly play important roles in early fertilization mechanisms. Despite these recognized limitations, this cell-free system used in conjunction with mass spectrometry allowed a glimpse into early fertilization proteomics in a way that has not been attempted before.
Our study ultimately identified 185 proteins which underwent a significant change in abundance within our parameters as described above (Table S1). Of these proteins, 144 were identified during the 4-hour cell-free system trial (Table 1) and 63 were found during the 24-hour cell-free system trial (Table 2), with 22 proteins overlapping between the trials. This lack of overlap was surprising but again may be reflective of our inability to truly detect the dynamic changes which take place within the cell-free system.
Considering the dynamic proteomic remodeling of both the oocyte and spermatozoa which takes place during early fertilization, these 185 proteins which have been identified likely play roles in processes beyond sperm mitophagy. Pathways related to pronuclear development, sperm aster formation, and degradation of the perinuclear theca, acrosome remnants, and tail structures including the mitochondrial sheath may all be captured. However, several autophagy-related proteins were found within our inventory including L-lactate dehydrogenase B chain, keratin 8, glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta 5, BAG family molecular chaperone regulator 5, sorting and assembly machinery component 50, and FUN14 domain-containing protein 2. Interestingly these proteins were all found in class 3, and thus these proteins may be mitophagy determinants or regulators which must be recognized by ooplasmic mitophagy receptors and removed from spermatozoa/sperm mitochondria for mitophagy to take place. In addition to these proteins, multiple components and regulators of the ubiquitin-proteasome system were also identified including 20S proteasomal subunits alpha type 2, 3, and 8, 26S proteasome non-ATPase regulatory subunit 2, 26S proteasome subunit ATPase 2, proteasome assembly chaperone 2, ubiquitin specific peptidase 50, E3 ubiquitin ligase cullin 4B and OTU deubiquitinase. These proteins are found in both classes 2 and 3; they may be involved in UPS-mediated mitophagy or play roles in the degradation of other sperm structures including the tail and perinuclear theca. There is also evidence of sperm proteasomes playing a role in acrosomal exocytosis, zona pellucida degradation, and events linked with sperm capacitation (Sutovsky, 2011Zigo, Manaskova-Postlerova, Jonakova, Kerns, & Sutovsky, 2019Zimmerman et al., 2011).
Class 1 proteins were proteins that were not identified within our primed control sperm proteome but were found in our cell-free system treated spermatozoa. We interpreted these as oocyte proteins which interacted with the oocyte extract exposed spermatozoa and remained bound to them after thorough washing at the end of co-incubation interval. Indeed, among the identified Class 1 proteins were several well documented oocyte-specific proteins which are known to interact with spermatozoa during early fertilization events, before or after sperm incorporation in the oocyte cytoplasm and are only found in oocytes. Adding to our confidence in the specificity of this cell-free proteomic system, these proteins included zona pellucida proteins 2, 3, and 4; ovastacin, DNA methyltransferase 1, and nucleoplasmin 2. Also, within Class 1, we observed proteins related to polyspermy prevention, pronuclear formation, cell development, and as well as several ROS scavenging proteins (Figure 2A and B). These pathways all reinforce known oocyte functions taking place during early fertilization events. Being able to capture some of these proteomic interactions is encouraging and shows that our cell-free system is indeed recapitulating specific proteomic interactions such as would be observed during in vitro fertilization.
Class 2 proteins were identified in the primed control samples but were found in an increased abundance within the cell-free system treated samples. Proteins in this class are expected to be oocyte derived proteins which bind the sperm structures and stay bound. However, this class may also include sperm proteomic changes which are stimulated by the ooplasmic exposure but not directly attributable to oocyte proteins binding the spermatozoa. There is some evidence that during capacitation, nuclear-encoded mRNAs in the spermatozoa are translated by mitochondrial ribosomes, specifically to support capacitation, hyperactivation, acrosomal exocytosis, and fertilization. Mitochondrial proteins, sperm tail axonemal proteins, and acrosomal function related proteins unexpectedly found in this category could be explained by this theory; this concerns cytochrome C1, cytochrome C oxidase subunit 5A, stomatin like 2, A-kinase anchoring protein 4, NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase subunit B5 and B9, and Tektin 1. In fact, STOML2 is a regulator of mitochondrial translation, further providing some credence to this hypothesis. This sperm translation theory remains controversial, however, and does not necessarily explain these trends (Gur & Breitbart, 2006). During Class 2 protein analysis at both time points, we observed an increase in proteasomal subunits/chaperones, as discussed above. Proteins related to spermatogenesis were also identified at each time point. Within Class 2 at both time points, proteins which are known to interact with sperm nuclear DNA during spermatogenesis were identified, including testis-specific serine kinase 6, spermatogenesis associated 24, and PHD finger protein 7. These proteins could perhaps assist in hyper-condensation of the sperm nucleus during spermatogenesis and may also play a role in decondensation of the sperm nucleus upon fertilization. During the 4-hour trial, proteins related to the acrosome reaction, and proteins within the mitochondrial respiratory chain were also identified which is somewhat surprising as we would expect these proteins to begin to be reduced but perhaps this is an indication of some capacitation-like events still taking place early on during our cell-free system co-incubation. Proteins in these categories are no longer identified at 24 hours, perhaps these proteins are early substrates of the ooplasmic protein recycling machinery (Figure 2C and D).
Among the Class 3 proteins, those which underwent a reduction in abundance after extract co-incubation, we observed sperm tail, acrosomal, mitochondrial, centrosome-related, spermatogenic, capacitation related, and membrane proteins. These aforementioned structures and systems are no longer necessary after fertilization. Specifically, during the 4-hour trials, 14% of the proteins categorized as Class 3 were tail proteins, 12% were mitochondrial proteins, 6% were spermatogenesis related and 6% were testis/epididymal specific proteins (Figure 2E). All of these sperm protein types being degraded during early fertilization would be expected. During the 24-hour trial, 7% of proteins observed were mitochondrial, and 12% were spermatogenesis related, supporting early degradation of some of these substrates. Surprisingly, there were no known tail proteins identified in the 24-hour trial, though 7% of proteins were known structural proteins (Figure 2F). Additionally, several autophagy/mitophagy regulators were found within this class as well. Readers will note that during the 4-hour trial, 108 of the 144 proteins identified, or 75%, fell into Class 3. During the 24-hour trial 43 of the 63 identified proteins, or 68%, fell into Class 3. This means that in both trials, the majority of spermatozoa changes observed were reductions in sperm protein content. This is not surprising when considering the context of sperm structure recycling and remodeling during fertilization. Spermatozoa contribute nuclear, chromosomal DNA; a centriole, mRNAs, and a variety of proteins and other molecules to the newly forming embryo; however, the rest of the spermatozoa structures are recycled in an orderly fashion after fertilization (Sutovsky, 2004Sutovsky & Schatten, 2000). This includes the mitochondrial sheath, as well as structural sperm tail proteins and the remenants of the acrosome, perinuclear theca, and pericentriolar compartment (Sutovsky, 2004). Spermatozoa retain many proteins which ultimately are degraded upon fertilization, a concept which appears to be further reinforced by this study.
Based on this mass spectrometry work, six candidate mitophagy proteins of interest were investigated by using the porcine cell-free system and porcine IVF in conjunction with ICC to detect protein localization patterns within each system. This was done to characterize changes in these proteins during early fertilization events, with an emphasis on exploring their potential roles in post-fertilization mitophagy. We observed that all six proteins appeared to match their mass spectrometry classifications when evaluated by ICC, though PSMG2 and PSMA3 did not increase dramatically in fluorescence intensity (as expected from Class 2 protein), in zygotes, PSMG2 and PSMA3 localization patterns clearly fit the expected increase in abundance. The other 4 proteins corresponded with mass spectrometry results in the cell-free system and in zygotes when observed via ICC. Additional discussion of these 6 candidate proteins can be found in the Supplemental Discussion section.
In summary, our study harnessed comparative proteomic analysis in conjunction with our novel porcine cell-free system to capture proteomic alterations to spermatozoa which take place during oocyte cytoplasm exposure, a system which has been shown to faithfully mimic some early fertilization events. In total, 185 proteins were identified to undergo significant changes in abundance. Six of these proteins were further investigated and their localization patterns were characterized in the porcine cell-free system and porcine zygotes. These six proteins warrant further exploration but were able to showcase that our mass spectrometry data can be replicated and further understood using immunocytochemistry. More work must be done to further understand these six proteins and more candidates from the 185 proteins inventory should be investigated. However, this mass spectrometry study is the first of its kind to be conducted, and along with the further exploration of six candidates, it highlights the usefulness of our porcine cell-free system for the exploration of early fertilization events, such as post-fertilization sperm mitophagy. This novel system will remain a useful tool to explore early fertilization events at the molecular level.
Materials and Methods
Antibodies and probes
Rabbit polyclonal anti-FUNDC2 (PA570823), MitoTracker® Red CMXRos, and ′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) were purchased from Invitrogen, Waltham, MA. Mouse monoclonal anti-PSMA3 (BML-PW8115) was purchased from Enzo Life Sciences, Farmingdale, NY. Rabbit polyclonal anti-SAMM50 (20824-I-AP) was purchased from ProteinTech Group, Rosemount, IL. Mouse monoclonal anti-BAG5 (CF810618) was purchased from OriGene Technologies, Rockville, MD. Rabbit polyclonal anti-PACRG (ab4090), rabbit polyclonal anti-SPATA18 (180154), mouse monoclonal anti-MVP (ab14562) and rabbit polyclonal anti-PSMG2 (ab172909) were purchased from Abcam, Cambridge, United Kingdom. HRP-conjugated goat anti-mouse IgG (31430), goat anti-rabbit IgG (31460), goat anti-mouse IgG TRITC (T2762), goat anti-rabbit IgG FITC (65-6111), goat anti-rabbit IgG TRITC (T2769) and goat anti-mouse FITC (62-6511) were purchased from ThermoFischer Scientific, Waltham, MA. Beltsville thawing solution (BTS) boar semen extender supplied with gentamicin was purchased from IMV Technologies, L’ igle, rance. Unless otherwise noted, all chemicals used in this study were purchased from Sigma-Aldrich, St. Lious, MO.
Boar semen collection and processing
Boars were housed at the University of Missouri Animal Science Research Center. Fresh boar semen was collected in one regular collection per week, transferred into 15 mL centrifuge tubes, and centrifuged at 800 × g for 10 min to separate spermatozoa from seminal plasma. Sperm concentration was assessed by using a light microscope and a hemocytometer (ThermoFischer Scientific, Waltham, MA). Only semen collections with >80% motile spermatozoa and <20% morphological abnormalities were used. Spermatozoa were diluted with BTS to a final concentration of 1 × 108 spermatozoa/mL and stored in a sperm incubator at 17°C for up to 5 days.
Collection and in vitro maturation (IVM) of pig oocytes
Porcine ovaries were obtained from a local slaughterhouse. Cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) were aspirated from antral follicles of 2-6 mm size and washed three times with HEPES buffered Tyrode Lactate medium containing 0.01% (w/v) polyvinyl alcohol (TL-HEPES-PVA). COCs were transferred into 500 µL wells of oocyte maturation medium (TCM 199, Mediatech, Inc., Manassas, VA) supplemented with 0.1% PVA, 3.05 mM D-glucose, 0.91 mM sodium pyruvate, 20 µg/mL of gentamicin, 0.57 mM cysteine, 0.5 µg/mL LH (L5269), 0.5 µg/mL FSH (F2293), 10 ng/mL epidermal growth factor (E4127), 10% (v/v) porcine follicular fluid. The media was overlaid with mineral oil in four-well dishes (ThermoFischer) and the COCs were incubated at 38.5°C, with 5% CO2 in the air, for 40 to 44 hours.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and In Vitro Culture (IVC) of Pig Oocytes/Zygotes
Cumulus cells of matured COCs were removed with 0.1% (w/v) hyaluronidase in TL-HEPES-PVA medium. MII oocytes as identified by the presence of a polar body. Mature oocytes were then washed three times with TL-HEPES-PVA medium and once with Tris-buffered medium (mTBM) containing 0.3% (w/v) BSA (A7888). Between 30–40 oocytes were placed into 100 µL drops of the mTBM covered with mineral oil in a 35 mm polystyrene culture dish, then incubated until spermatozoa were prepared for fertilization. Liquid semen preserved in BTS extender solution was washed with PBS containing 0.1% (w/v) PVA (PBS-PVA) two times by centrifugation at 800 x g for 5 min. To stain mitochondria in the sperm tail, the boar spermatozoa were incubated with vital, fixable, mitochondrion-specific probe MitoTracker® Red CMXRos for 10 min at 38.5°C. The spermatozoa pre-labeled with MitoTracker were resuspended in mTBM medium. The sperm suspension in mTBM medium was then added to the 100 µL drops of mTBM medium for a final concentration of 2.5 to 5 × 105 spermatozoa/mL. Matured oocytes were incubated with spermatozoa for 5 hours at 38.5°C, with 5% CO2 in the air, then transferred to 500 µL drops of MU3 medium (Chen et al., 2018) containing 0.4% (w/v) BSA (A6003) for additional culture.
Sperm Priming for Cell-Free System
Boar spermatozoa were washed with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS, 137 mM NaCl, 2.7 mM KCl, 10 mM Na2HPO4, 1.8 mM KH2HPO4, pH = 7.2) containing 0.1% (w/v) PVA (PBS-PVA) two times by centrifugation at 800 × g for 5 min. The sperm mitochondria were labeled with MitoTracker® Red CMXRos for 10 min at 37°C. At the previously tested concentration of 400 nM, the probe specifically stains boar sperm mitochondria but is also taken up by the sperm head structures (W. H. (Song et al., 2016)).
To prime sperm mitochondrial sheaths for cell-free studies, spermatozoa pre-labeled with MitoTracker were demembranated/permeabilized with 0.05% (w/v) L-α-lysophosphatidylcholine in KMT (20 mM KCl, 5 mM MgCl2, 50 mM TRI ∙HCl, pH = 7.0) for 10 min at 37°C and washed twice with the KMT for 5 min by centrifugation, to terminate the reaction. The spermatozoa were subsequently incubated with 1.0 mM dithiothreitol (DTT) diluted in KMT, pH = 8.2 for 20 min at 37°C and washed twice with KMT for 5 min by centrifugation, to terminate the reaction.
Preparation of Porcine Oocyte Extracts
Cumulus cells of matured COCs were removed with 0.1% (w/v) hyaluronidase in TL-HEPES-PVA medium. The oocytes were then searched for mature MII oocytes as designated by the presence of a polar body. Mature oocytes were then washed three times with TL-HEPES-PVA medium. Zonae pellucidae (ZP) were removed by 0.1% (w/v) pronase (Sigma) in TL-HEPES-PVA. The ZP-free, mature MII oocytes were transferred into an extraction buffer (50 mM KCl, 5 mM MgCl2, 5 mM ethylene glycol-bis[β-aminoethyl ether]-N,N,N’,N’-tetraacetic acid [EGTA], 2 mM β-mercaptoethanol, 0.1 mM PMSF, protease inhibitor cocktail [78410, ThermoFischer Scientific], 50 mM HEPES, pH = 7.6) containing an energy-regenerating system (2 mM ATP, 20 mM phosphocreatine, 20 U/mL creatine kinase, and 2 mM GTP), and submerged three times into liquid nitrogen for 5 min each. Next, the frozen-thawed oocytes were crushed by high-speed centrifugation at 16,650 × g for 20 min at 4°C in a Sorvall Biofuge Fresco (Kendro Laboratory Products). Batches of oocyte extract were made from 1,000 oocytes in 100 µL of extract. The supernatants were harvested, transferred into a 1.5 mL tube, and stored in a deep freezer (–80°C).
Co-Incubation of Permeabilized Mammalian Spermatozoa with Porcine Oocyte Extracts
The permeabilized boar spermatozoa were added to porcine oocyte extracts at a concentration of 1×104 spermatozoa/10 μL of an extract and co-incubated for 4–24 h in an incubator at 38.5°C, with 5% CO2 in the air. After co-incubation, spermatozoa were washed 3x with KMT. At which point the spermatozoa were either processed for immunocytochemistry (as described below), electrophoresis (as described below), or prepared for mass spectrometry analysis (as described below).
The ICC protocol was performed as described previously (Sutovsky, 2004). Briefly, to fix oocytes or embryos, cells were fixed with 2% (v/v) formaldehyde in PBS for 40 min at room temperature, washed and processed, or stored in PBS at 4°C until used for immunocytochemistry. In some cases, for oocytes and embryos, zona pellucida was removed using 0.1%, (w/v) pronase in TL-HEPES-PVA and the cells were then fixed with 2% (v/v) formaldehyde in PBS for 40 min at room temp. To fix ejaculated, primed, or cell-free treated boar spermatozoa; microscopy coverslips were overlaid with 300 µL of 1% (w/v) aqueous solution of poly-L-lysine, incubated for 5 min, then shaken off, and allowed to dry. The poly-L-lysin coated coverslips were overlaid with 400 µL of warm KMT medium (37°C; pH = 7.3) and 2 µL of sperm suspension (1 × 108 spermatozoa/mL) were added onto coverslips and allowed to settle on the lysine-coated surface for 10 min on a 38.5°C plate. KMT was shaken off from the coverslips and coverslips were overlaid with 2% (v/v) formaldehyde in PBS for 40 min fixation at room temperature, then used for immunocytochemistry immediately or stored at 4°C. Both spermatozoa and oocytes were permeabilized in PBS with 0.1% (v/v) Triton X-100 (PBST) at room temperature for 40 min, then blocked with 5% (v/v) normal goat serum (NGS) in PBST for 25 min. Spermatozoa/oocytes were incubated with the appropriate primary antibodies diluted in PBST containing 1% (v/v) NGS overnight at 4°C. The primary antibodies used throughout the trial and their dilution ratios are as follows: anti-FUNDC2 (1:50), anti-PACRG (1:50), anti-SPATA18 (1:50), anti-MVP (1:50), anti-SAMM50 (1:50), anti-BAG5 (1:50), anti-PSMG2 (1:25) and anti-PSMA3 (1:25). The samples were incubated with appropriate species-specific secondary antibodies such as goat-anti-rabbit (GAR)-IgG-FITC (1:100 dilution), GAR-IgG-TRITC (1:100), goat-anti-mouse (GAM)-IgG-FITC (1:100), or GAM-IgG-TRITC, all diluted 1:100 in PBST with 1% (v/v) NGS for 40 min at room temperature; 2.5 µg/mL DNA stain DAPI was included as well. The samples were mounted on microscopy slides in VectaShield mounting medium (Vector Laboratories, Burlingame, CA), and imaged using a Nikon Eclipse 800 microscope (Nikon Instruments Inc., Melville, NY) with a Retiga QI-R6 camera (Teledyne QImaging, Surrey, BC, Canada) operated by MetaMorph 184.108.40.206. software (Molecular Devices, San Jose, CA). Images were adjusted for contrast and brightness in Adobe Photoshop 2020 (Adobe Systems, Mountain View, CA), to match the fluorescence intensities viewed through the microscope eyepieces.
SDS-PAGE and Western Blotting
The oocyte extracts proteins were prepared for WB by mixing the oocyte extract with 4× LDS loading buffer and ultrapure water to obtain 1× LDS (106 mM Tris∙HCl, 1 1 mM Tris base, 2% (w/v) LD, 10% (w/v) Glycerol, 0.75% (w/v) Coomassie Blue G250, 0.025% (w/v) Phenol Red, pH = 8.5), supplemented with 2.5% (v/v) β-mercaptoethanol and incubated at 70°C for 10 min prior to use. Spermatozoa were suspended in 1× LDS loading buffer supplemented with 2.5% β-mercaptoethanol. Spermatozoa were incubated at room temperature in 1× LDS loading buffer supplemented with protease inhibitor cocktail for 1 hour on a rocking platform and spun. Total protein equivalent of 50 to 100 million spermatozoa, and 50 MII oocytes were loaded per lane, respectively, on a NuPAGE 4–12% Bis-Tris gel (Invitrogen). Electrophoresis was carried out in the Bis-Tris system using MOPS-SDS running buffer (50 mM MOPS, 50 mM Tris base, 0.1% [w/v] SDS, 1 mM EDTA, pH = 7.7) with the cathode buffer supplemented with 5 mM sodium bisulfite. The molecular masses of separated proteins were estimated using Novex® Sharp Pre-stained Protein Standard (Invitrogen, LC5800) run in parallel. PAGE was carried out for 5 min at 90 Volts to let the samples delve into the gel and then for another 60–70 min at 200 Volts. The power was limited to 20 Watts. After PAGE, proteins were electro-transferred to polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) membranes (MilliporeSigma, Burlington, MA) using Owl wet transfer system (ThermoFischer Scientific) at 65 Volts for 90 min for immunodetection, using Bis-Tris-Bicine transfer buffer (25 mM Bis-Tris base, 25 mM Bicine, 1 mM EDTA, pH = 7.2) supplemented with 10% (v/v) methanol per membrane, and 2.5 mM sodium bisulfite. The membranes with the transferred proteins were blocked with 10% (w/v) non-fat milk in TBS with 0.05% (v/v) Tween 20 (TBST, Sigma) for 40 min. The membranes were then incubated with the appropriate primary antibodies diluted in 5% non-fat milk in TBST overnight at 4°C. The primary antibodies used throughout the trial and their dilution ratios are as follows: anti-FUNDC2 (1:1000), anti-PACRG (1:1000), anti-SPATA18 (1:1000), anti-MVP (1:1000), anti-SAMM50 (1:1000), anti-BAG5 (1:1000), anti-PSMG2 (1:1000) and anti-PSMA3 (1:1000). The membranes were subsequently incubated with appropriate species-specific secondary antibodies such as HRP-conjugated goat anti-mouse IgG (GAM-IgG-HRP), or goat anti-rabbit (GAR-IgG-HRP) for 40 min at room temperature. The membranes were reacted with chemiluminescent substrate (Millipore), detected using ChemiDoc Touch Imaging System (Bio-Rad, Hercules, CA, USA) to record the protein bands, and analyzed by Image Lab Software (ver. 5.2.1, Bio-Rad, Hercules, CA, USA). The membranes were stained with CBB R-250 after chemiluminescence detection for protein load control.
Mass Spectrometry Sample Preparation
Cell-free system exposed spermatozoa, spermatozoa controls, and oocyte extract underwent protein precipitation using a TCA protein precipitation protocol from Dr. Luis Sanchez. These samples were then resuspended in acetone and submitted to the University of Missouri Gehrke Proteomics Center for MALDI-TOF Mass Spectrometry analysis. At the Proteomics Center, these samples were washed by 80% cold acetone twice. Then 10 µl 6M urea 2M thiourea and 100mM ammonium bicarbonate was added to the protein pellet. Solubilized protein was reduced by DTT and alkylated by iodoacetamide. Then trypsin was added for disgestion overnight. The digested peptides were C18 ziptip deslated, lyophilized and resuspended in 10 µL 5/0.1% acetonitrile/formic acid.
A volume of 1 µL of suspended peptides was loaded onto a C18 column with a step gradient of acetonitrile at 300 nL/min. A Bruker nanoElute system was connected to a timsTOF pro mass spectrometer. The loaded peptide was eluted at a flow rate of 300 nl/min with the initial gradient of 3% B (A: 0.1% formic acid in water, B: 99.9% acetonitrile, 0.1% formic acid), followed by 11 min ramp to 17%B, 17-25% B over 21 min, 25-37% B over 10 min, 37-80% B over 4 min, holding at 80% B for 9 min, 80-3% B in 1 min, and holding at 3% B for 3 min. Total running time was 60 min.
Raw data was searched using PEAKs (version X+) with UniProt Sus scrofa protein database downloaded March 01, 2019 with 88374 itmes. Samples were searched with trypsin as enzyme, 4 missed cleavages allowed; carbamidomethyl cysteine as a fixed modification; oxidized methionine and acetylation on protein N terminus as variable modification. 50 ppm mass tolerance on precursor ions, 0.1Da on fragment ions. For the protein identification, the following criteria were used: peptide FDR and protein FDR < 1%, and >=4 spectrum per protein in each sample. Samples were submitted in triplicate for both the 4- and 24-hours cell-free system trials.
Mass Spectrometry Data Statistical Analysis
Prior to statistical analysis, the primed and cell-free treated sperm samples were normalized based on the content of outer dense fiber proteins (ODF) 1, 2, and 3. To further reduce batch variance, the protein spectrum counts were also subject to normalization by means. After these normalization steps, the primed and cell-free extract treated sperm samples were statistically compared using a paired T-test. This T-test was comparing the relative normalized protein abundance between our primed control and cell-free treated samples. P<0.1 and P<0.2 was considered to indicate statistical significance.
Both the 4-hour and 24-hour protein inventories were divided into three different classes. Class 1 proteins were detected only in the oocyte extract (not in the vehicle control or primed control spermatozoa) and found on the spermatozoa only after extract co-incubation. These proteins are interpreted as ooplasmic mitophagy receptors/determinants and nuclear/centrosomal remodeling factors (p<0.2). Class 2 proteins were detected in the primed spermatozoa but increased in the spermatozoa exposed to cell-free system co-incubation (p<0.1). Class 3 proteins were present in both the gametes or only the spermatozoa, but are decreased in the spermatozoa after co-incubation, interpreted as sperm-borne mitophagy determinants and/or sperm-borne proteolytic substrates of the oocyte autophagic system (p<0.1).
Following the statistical analysis and protein classification, the function of all proteins p<0.1 (p<0.2 for Class 1), were searched using a PubMed literature search and UniProt Knowledgebase search. Known functions can be found in Table 1 and Table 2. Proteins were then categorized based on known functions and known roles within pathways, in gametes and/or somatic cells. Protein categorization results can be found in the pie chart images of Figure 2.
We are truly thankful for the support received from the staff of the National Swine Research and Resource Center, the University of Missouri, funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant U42 OD011140, as well as Professor Randall Prather and his associates for their kind support, including but not limited to gilt ovary and boar semen collections. We would also like to thank the University of Missouri Gehrke Proteomics Center, and their staff who conducted the mass spectrometry data collection and statistical analysis.
- Postfertilization autophagy of sperm organelles prevents paternal mitochondrial DNA transmissionScience 334:1144–1147https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1211878
- Sequence and organization of the human mitochondrial genomeNature 290:457–465https://doi.org/10.1038/290457a0
- Misconceptions about mitochondria and mammalian fertilization: implications for theories on human evolutionProc Natl Acad Sci U S A 93:13859–13863https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.93.24.13859
- Identification of gene products present in Triton X-100 soluble and insoluble fractions of human spermatozoa lysates using LC-MS/MS analysisProteomics Clin Appl 1:524–532https://doi.org/10.1002/prca.200601013
- Glutamine supplementation enhances development of in vitro-produced porcine embryos and increases leucine consumption from the mediumBiol Reprod 99:938–948https://doi.org/10.1093/biolre/ioy129
- Mammalian sperm translate nuclear-encoded proteins by mitochondrial-type ribosomesGenes & Development 20:411–416https://doi.org/10.1101/gad.367606
- Mitochondrial calcium signalling and cell death: approaches for assessing the role of mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake in apoptosisCell Calcium 40:553–560https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ceca.2006.08.016
- Elimination of paternal mitochondrial DNA in intraspecific crosses during early mouse embryogenesisProc Natl Acad Sci U S A 92:4542–4546https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.92.10.4542
- A persistent mitochondrial deletion reduces fitness and sperm performance in heteroplasmic populations of C. elegansBMC Genet 8:8https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2156-8-8
- Biparental Inheritance of Mitochondrial DNA in HumansProc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115:13039–13044https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1810946115
- Proteomic identification of human sperm proteinsProteomics 6:4356–4369https://doi.org/10.1002/pmic.200600094
- Mitochondria: more than just a powerhouseCurr Biol 16https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2006.06.054
- Mitochondrial disease--its impact, etiology, and pathologyCurr Top Dev Biol 77:113–155https://doi.org/10.1016/S0070-2153(06)77005-3
- Reprogramming events of mammalian somatic cells induced by Xenopus laevis egg extractsMol Reprod Dev 74:1268–1277https://doi.org/10.1002/mrd.20691
- Cell-free extracts from mammalian oocytes partially induce nuclear reprogramming in somatic cellsBiol Reprod 80:935–943https://doi.org/10.1095/biolreprod.108.073676
- Acute epididymitis induces alterations in sperm protein compositionFertil Steril 101:1609–1617https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.03.011
- Paternal mitochondrial destruction after fertilization is mediated by a common endocytic and autophagic pathway in DrosophilaDev Cell 29:305–320https://doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2014.04.005
- Degradation of paternal mitochondria by fertilization-triggered autophagy in C. elegans embryosScience 334:1141–1144https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1210333
- Paternal inheritance of mitochondrial DNAN Engl J Med 347:576–580https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa020350
- Heteroplasmy of mouse mtDNA is genetically unstable and results in altered behavior and cognitionCell 151:333–343https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2012.09.004
- Maternal inheritance of mouse mtDNA in interspecific hybrids: segregation of the leaked paternal mtDNA followed by the prevention of subsequent paternal leakageGenetics 148:851–857
- Slone, J., Zou, W., Luo, S., Schmitt, E. S., Chen, S. M., Wang, X., … Huang, T. (2020). doi:10.1101/2020.02.26.939405https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.26.939405
- Mammalian Cell-Free System Recapitulates the Early Events of Post-Fertilization Sperm MitophagyCells 10:2450https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10092450
- Porcine Cell-Free System to Study Mammalian Sperm Mitophagyhttps://doi.org/10.1007/7651_2018_158
- Autophagy and ubiquitin-proteasome system contribute to sperm mitophagy after mammalian fertilizationProc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1605844113
- Visualization of sperm accessory structures in the mammalian spermatids, spermatozoa, and zygotes by immunofluorescence, confocal, and immunoelectron microscopyMethods Mol Biol 253:59–77https://doi.org/10.1385/1-59259-744-0:059
- Sperm proteasome and fertilizationReproduction 142:1–14https://doi.org/10.1530/REP-11-0041
- Expression and proteasomal degradation of the major vault protein (MVP) in mammalian oocytes and zygotesReproduction 129:269–282https://doi.org/10.1530/rep.1.00291
- Early degradation of paternal mitochondria in domestic pig (Sus scrofa) is prevented by selective proteasomal inhibitors lactacystin and MG132Biol Reprod 68:1793–1800https://doi.org/10.1095/biolreprod.102.012799
- Ubiquitin tag for sperm mitochondriaNature 402:371–372https://doi.org/10.1038/46466
- Ubiquitin tag for sperm mitochondriaNature 402:371–372https://doi.org/10.1038/46466
- Paternal contributions to the mammalian zygote: fertilization after sperm-egg fusionInt Rev Cytol 195:1–65
- Assembly of nuclear pore complexes and annulate lamellae promotes normal pronuclear development in fertilized mammalian oocytesJ Cell Sci 111:2841–2854
- Degradation of paternal mitochondria after fertilization: implications for heteroplasmy, assisted reproductive technologies and mtDNA inheritanceReprod Biomed Online 8:24–33
- High Resolution Proteomic Analysis of Subcellular Fractionated Boar Spermatozoa Provides Comprehensive Insights Into Perinuclear Theca-Residing ProteinsFront Cell Dev Biol 10:836208https://doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2022.836208
- Elimination of paternal mitochondria through the lysosomal degradation pathway in C. elegansCell Res 21:1662–1669https://doi.org/10.1038/cr.2011.182
- Compartmentalization of the proteasome-interacting proteins during sperm capacitationScientific Reports 9https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-49024-0
- Sperm proteasomes degrade sperm receptor on the egg zona pellucida during mammalian fertilizationPLoS One 6https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017256
- The domestic pig as a model for the study of mitochondrial inheritancehttps://doi.org/10.1007/s00441-019-03100-z