Female sperm storage is an intriguing adaptation exhibited by a wide array of both vertebrates and invertebrates. The mechanisms underlying female sperm storage have remained elusive. Using the Indian garden lizard Calotes versicolor as a model organism, we investigated the role of low and high molecular weight factors in this phenomenon. Previously, we demonstrated three distinct phases of the reproductive cycle in this animal with live, motile spermatozoa recovered from the uterovaginal region during the reproductive phase. In the present study, we analysed the uterovaginal contents using sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and identified an abundant protein band corresponding to ∼55 kDa regardless of the phase of the reproductive cycle. Analysis of the purified protein by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry suggested a unique protein without any homology to the National Center for Biotechnology Information database. Exogenous addition of this protein to washed spermatozoa derived from the epididymis reversibly inhibited sperm motility in a concentration- and time-dependent manner, suggesting it plays a key role in sperm storage. These studies are likely to offer new avenues to unravel the secrets of female sperm storage seen across the animal taxa and may have novel applications not only in reproductive biology, but also in general cell storage and preserving endangered animal species.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Reproductive Medicine
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Biology