Immunocontraceptive target repertoire defined by systematic identification of sperm membrane alloantigens in a single species


Sperm competence in animal fertilization requires the collective activities of numerous sperm-specific proteins that are typically alloimmunogenic in females. Consequently, sperm membrane alloantigens are potential targets for contraceptives that act by blocking the proteins’ functions in gamete interactions. Here we used a targeted proteomics approach to identify the major alloantigens in swine sperm membranes and lipid rafts, and thereby systematically defined the repertoire of these sperm-specific proteins in a single species. Gilts with high alloantibody reactivity to proteins in sperm membranes or lipid rafts produced fewer offspring (73% decrease) than adjuvant-only or nonimmune control animals. Alloantisera recognized more than 20 potentially unique sperm membrane proteins and five sperm lipid raft proteins resolved on two-dimensional immunoblots with or without prior enrichment by anion exchange chromatography. Dominant sperm membrane alloantigens identified by mass spectrometry included the ADAMs fertilin α, fertilin ß, and cyritestin. Less abundant alloantigens included ATP synthase F1 β subunit, myo-inositol monophosphatase-1, and zymogen granule membrane glycoprotein-2. Immunodominant sperm lipid raft alloantigens included SAMP14, lymphocyte antigen 6K, and the epididymal sperm protein E12. Of the fifteen unique membrane alloantigens identified, eleven were known sperm-specific proteins with uncertain functions in fertilization, and four were not previously suspected to exist as sperm-specific isoforms. De novo sequences of tryptic peptides from sperm membrane alloantigen “M6” displayed no evident homology to known proteins, so is a newly discovered sperm-specific gene product in swine. We conclude that alloimmunizing gilts with sperm membranes or lipid rafts evokes formation of antibodies to a relatively small number of dominant alloantigens that include known and novel sperm-specific proteins with possible functions in fertilization and potential utility as targets for immunocontraception.


© 2018 Cormier et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. cc-by



Cormier, N., McGlone, J.J., Leszyk, J., & Hardy, D.M.. 2018. Immunocontraceptive target repertoire defined by systematic identification of sperm membrane alloantigens in a single species. PLoS ONE, 13(1).