Our earlier studies reported the identification of a rat testicular protein of 24 kDa with significant similarity at the N-terminus with Mu class glutathione S-transferases (GSTs). Treatment of goat sperm with antisera against this protein identified immunoreactive sites on the spermatozoa and inhibited in vitro fertilization of goat oocytes by the antibody-treated sperm. The above observations indicated the presence of GST-like molecule(s) important for fertility related events on goat spermatozoa. In this study, we report the purification of goat sperm GSTs (GSP1) which were purified by glutathione affinity chromatography and were enzymically active towards 1-chloro-2,4,-dinitrobenzene, a general GST substrate, and ethacrynic acid, a substrate for Pi class GSTs. GSP1 resolved into three major components on reverse-phase HPLC: peaks 1 and 2 with molecular masses of 26.5 kDa and peak 3 with a molecular mass of 25.5 kDa, as determined by SDS/PAGE. Multiple attempts to obtain N-terminal sequences of the first two peaks failed, indicating N-terminal block; however, they reacted to specific anti-Mu-GST antisera on Western blots and ELISA, and not to anti-Pi-GST antisera, which provides evidence for the presence of Mu-GST-reactive sites on peaks 1 and 2. The third component showed 80% N-terminal similarity with human and rat GSTP1-1 over an overlap of 15 amino acids, and reacted to anti-Pi-specific antisera in ELISA. Sperm labelled with antibodies against a 10-mer and an 11-mer peptide, designed from the N-terminal sequences of Mu and Pi class GSTs respectively, showed the presence of both Mu- and Pi-GST on goat sperm surface at distinct cellular domains. Selective inhibition of Pi class GST by the Pi-specific antisera, either at 0 h or at 3 h after initiation of sperm capacitation, leads to a reduction in fertilization rates. In contrast, the inhibition of Mu class GST by specific antisera at 0 h does not inhibit fertilization, although such treatment at 3 h after the initiation of capacitation reduces fertilization rates. The results indicate that both Pi- and Mu-GSTs are involved in fertilization, but the Mu-GST sites essential for fertilization are exposed only after 3 h of capacitation. The enzymic activity of GSP1 or live spermatozoa is not inhibited by the two antisera. The inability of the antibodies to cause such inhibition indicates that the reduction in fertilization rates and acrosome reaction caused by the antibodies is through a mechanism which does not interfere with the catalytic activity of the molecule. Therefore we established the presence of Pi and Mu class GST on goat sperm, their localization and their possible function in fertility-related events.

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