Characterization of mouse epididymal acrosin: comparative studies with acrosin from boar and human ejaculated spermatozoa

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Acrosin is an acrosomal protease believed to play a major role in fertilization. It is synthesized as an inactive precursor, proacrosin, which is processed via (auto)proteolysis into active form(s). In this paper, comparative studies on the characteristics of acrosin from mouse, boar and human are reported. The mouse proacrosin/acrosin was especially investigated to clarify whether or not the enzyme undergoes modifications during epididymal maturation. Acrosomal extracts from mature and immature mouse spermatozoa, as well as from ejaculated boar and human spermatozoa, were analysed by means of SDS-electrophoresis, Western blot and activity measurements. The studies showed that epididymal maturation produced a shift in the molecular weight of proacrosin. It was also observed that the activation kinetics differ strongly between the three species studied. Human proacrosin showed a constant substrate turnover, acrosin from boar showed sigmoidal activation kinetics and mouse acrosin, either from the caput or the cauda epididymides, showed a rapid decay in activity, suggesting the presence of an endogenous specific inhibitor.

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