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Proteasome activity and proteasome subunit transcripts in human spermatozoa separated by a discontinuous Percoll gradient

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Summary

Human semen is composed of a heterogeneous population of spermatozoa with varying degrees of structural and functional differentiation and normality, which result in subpopulations of different quality. Using a discontinuous Percoll gradient, we separated three subsets of spermatozoa (65/45%, 90/65% and 90% fractions) from normozoospermic semen samples from healthy donors and proceeded to characterise their morphology, viability, motility and proteasome activity. In addition, the presence of proteasome subunit transcripts was investigated using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The results obtained showed significant differences in sperm motility, viability and morphology between the cells collected from each of the fractions. In particular, normal sperm morphology was 4.5 times higher in the 90% pellet in comparison with the 65/45% interface. In addition, there were significant differences in proteasomal activity between spermatozoa recovered from the 90% pellet and spermatozoa recovered from the 65/45% interface. Finally, there was a positive correlation between sperm proteasomal enzymatic activity and sperm motility and normal morphology after separation by a discontinuous Percoll gradient. The results of the RT-PCR revealed the presence of transcripts for the proteasome subunits β1, β2 and β5 in the human spermatozoa analysed. In conclusion, poor quality spermatozoa isolated from a Percoll gradient display an intrinsic proteasome activity deficiency, which may be associated with their low fertilising potential.
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Keywords: Chymotrypsin-like activity; proteasome; proteasome transcripts; sperm morphology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations:  Departamento Biom├ędico, Facultad Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Antofagasta, Antofagasta, Chile

Publication date: 01 April 2011

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