We isolated the major protein of apparent Mr of 15,000–16,000 from seminal plasma as well as from seminal veiscle secretion of bull and proved by amino acid analysis and tryptic peptide mapping that the two proteins were identical. An antiserum against this major protein was employed to quantitate and identify the major protein in seminal plasma as well as seminal vesicle secretion. The antiserum did not cross-react with proteins from bovine or human plasma or follicular fluid respectively.
Cell-free translation of poly(A)RNA from seminal vesicle tissue and immunoprecipitation yielded one major species with apparent Mr of 18,000. Using the anti-major protein antiserum, this major species was specifically immuno absorbed. Cloning and sequencing of a major protein-specific cDNA led to the identification of clone pMP17, encoding a precursor of the major protein of 128 amino acid residues. We proved that the major protein is identical to protein PDC 109 (Esch et al., Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm.113:861–867, 1983).
The seminal vesicles synthesize major protein in an androgen-dependent fashion. In addition to intraluminal secretion of the vas deferens, ampullary spermatozoa revealed an intense immunoreaction which was restricted to the neck region of the sperm head and the middle piece, while the principal piece of the tail as well as the sperm head were devoid of immunoreactive material. Epididymal epithelium (as well as calf seminal vesicle epithelium) showed no immunoreactivity with major protein antiserum. Immunoelectron microscopy demonstrated that only spermatozoa devoid of a plasma membrane around the middle piece were able to bind the antiserum against major protein. After removal of the plasma membrane from epididymal spermatozoa, binding of major protein to subplasmalemmal binding sites was visualised using gold-labeled MP.
Transblotting with gold-labeled MP demonstrated a protein of about 66 kDa which appears to represent the major protein-receptor. Binding of major protein to the receptor (after loss of the plasma membrane in the mid-piece region of the spermatozoa after contact with secretions from seminal vesicles) is interpreted as a phyisological process presumably related to the onset of sperm motility.