Novel proteomic profiling of epididymal extracellular vesicles in the domestic cat reveals proteins related to sequential sperm maturation with differences observed between normospermic and teratospermic individuals
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) secreted by the epididymal epithelium transfer to spermatozoa key proteins that are essential in promoting motility and subsequent fertilization success. Using the domestic cat model, the objectives were to (1) characterize and compare protein content of EVs between segments of the epididymis, and (2) compare EV protein compositions between normo- and teratospermic individuals (producing >60% of abnormal spermatozoa). Epididymal EVs from adult cats were isolated and assessed via liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Both male types shared 3,008 proteins in total, with 98 and 20 EV proteins unique to normospermic and teratospermic males, respectively. Expression levels of several proteins changed between epididymal segments in both male types. Several proteins in both groups were related to sperm motility (hexokinase 1, adenylate kinase isoenzyme) and zona pellucida or oolemma binding (disintegrin and metalloproteinase domain proteins, zona binding proteins 1 and 2). Interestingly, seven cauda-derived EV proteins trended downward in teratospermic compared to normospermic males, which may relate to poor sperm quality. Collective results revealed, for the first time, EV proteins related to sequential sperm maturation with differences observed between normospermic and teratospermic individuals.