Date of Award
MS in Agriculture - Animal Science
Equine spermadhesin HSP-7 is a 14 kDa protein isolated from stallion seminal plasma and present on the surface of spermatozoa. HSP-7 displays carbohydrate and zona-pellucida binding properties, but the physiological role in equine fertilization is not well defined. HSP-7 has 98% amino acid sequence homology with the well-studied boar spermadhesin, AWN. Currently, these two proteins are considered to have the same reproductive function. Immunofluorescence studies presented here show that the stallion and boar spermadhesins are localized to different segments on spermatozoa. The variation in molecular compartmentalization of spermadhesin molecules in different species suggests that these structurally related proteins could be involved in independent events of fertilization. While the variation in HSP-7 abundance was not statistically significant between fertile and subfertile stallions, capacitated spermatozoa displayed a marked increase in HSP-7 when compared to neat sperm (P < 0.05). These results indicate that rather than aiding in capacitation, HSP-7 is exposed with capacitation and may have a more significant role in the acrosome reaction and sperm-oocyte recognition than previously documented.