Characterization of different oligomeric forms of CRISP2 in the perinuclear theca versus the fibrous tail structures of boar spermatozoa

M Zhang, E G Bromfield, T Veenendaal, J Klumperman, J B Helms, B M Gadella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Mammalian sperm carry a variety of highly condensed insoluble protein structures such as the perinuclear theca, the fibrous sheath and the outer dense fibers, which are essential to sperm function. We studied the role of cysteine rich secretory protein 2 (CRISP2); a known inducer of non-pathological protein amyloids, in pig sperm with a variety of techniques. CRISP2, which is synthesized during spermatogenesis, was localized by confocal immunofluorescent imaging in the tail and in the post-acrosomal region of the sperm head. High resolution localization by immunogold labeling electron microscopy (EM) of ultrathin cryosections revealed that CRISP2 was present in the perinuclear theca and neck region of the sperm head, as well as in the outer dense fibers and the fibrous sheath of the sperm tail. Interestingly, we found that under native, non-reducing conditions CRISP2 formed oligomers both in the tail and the head but with different molecular weights and different biochemical properties. The tail oligomers were insensitive to reducing conditions but nearly complete dissociated into monomers under 8 M urea treatment, while the head 250 kDa CRISP2 positive oligomer completely dissociated into CRISP2 monomers under reducing conditions. The head specific dissociation of CRISP2 oligomer is likely a result of the reduction of various sulfhydryl groups in the cysteine rich domain of this protein. The sperm head CRISP2 shared typical solubilization characteristics with other perinuclear theca proteins as was shown with sequential detergent and salt treatments. Thus, CRISP2 is likely to participate in the formation of functional protein complexes in both the sperm tail and sperm head, but with differing oligomeric organization and biochemical properties. Future studies will be devoted to the understand the role of CRISP2 in sperm protein complexes formation and how this contributes to the fertilization processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1160-1170
Number of pages11
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number5
Early online date26 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021


  • CRISP-2
  • protein oligomers
  • fibrous sheath
  • outer dense fibers
  • perinuclear theca
  • pigsperm


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