Comparative sperm proteomics in mouse species with divergent mating systems

Alberto Vicens, Kirill Borziak, Timothy L. Karr, Eduardo R.S. Roldan, Steve Dorus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Sexual selection is the pervasive force underlying the dramatic divergence of sperm form and function. Although it has been demonstrated that testis gene expression evolves rapidly, exploration of the proteomic basis of sperm diversity is in its infancy. We have employed a whole-cell proteomics approach to characterize sperm divergence among closely related Mus species that experience different sperm competition regimes and exhibit pronounced variation in sperm energetics, motility and fertilization capacity. Interspecific comparisons revealed significant abundance differences amongst proteins involved in fertilization capacity, including those that govern sperm-zona pellucida interactions, axoneme components and metabolic proteins. Ancestral reconstruction of relative testis size suggests that the reduction of zona pellucida binding proteins and heavy-chain dyneins was associated with a relaxation in sperm competition in the M. musculus lineage. Additionally, the decreased reliance on ATP derived from glycolysis in high sperm competition species was reflected in abundance decreases in glycolytic proteins of the principle piece in M. spretus and M. spicilegus. Comparison of protein abundance and stage-specific testis expression revealed a significant correlation during spermatid development when dynamic morphological changes occur. Proteins underlying sperm diversification were also more likely to be subject to translational repression, suggesting that sperm composition is influenced by the evolution of translation control mechanisms. The identification of functionally coherent classes of proteins relating to sperm competition highlights the utility of evolutionary proteomic analyses and reveals that both intensified and relaxed sperm competition can have a pronounced impact on the molecular composition of the male gamete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1403-1416
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Acrosome
  • Fertilization
  • Oocyte
  • Sperm competition
  • Translation regulation
  • Zona pellucida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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