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'Origin Of Sex' Can Be Revealed By Sperm Proteome

at least 381, which is a greater than 50-fold increase in our knowledge base. Now that we have identified them, we should be able to study the function of all of these.'

Proteins carry out an immense range of functions, from forming structural materials to catalysing chemical reactions, so knowing exactly what proteins are in sperm is a great step forward in understanding.

The research involved purifying fruit fly sperm and developing methods to study their protein content. Previous estimates for the protein content of sperm were based on counts of proteins separated into 'spots' on a special gel matrix. However, these only identify the total number of proteins in sperm – rather than identifying the specific identity of each protein constituent

'The sperm proteome provides a basis for studying the critical functional components of sperm required for motility, fertilisation and possibly early embryo development,' said Dr Steve Dorus, also from the University of Bath, who collaborated with Dr Karr on the project.

'It should be a valuable tool in the study of infertility as more targeted studies can now be established in model organisms.

'Furthermore, having a comprehensive catalogue of proteins to compare between different species will reveal how natural selection has impacted sperm evolution.

'We can start to look for the 'core' sperm proteome - that is, the most basic required constituents of sperm. This will not only shed light on the evolutionary origins of sperm, but may advance our understanding of the evolution of sex itself.'

The research will also help further our understanding of sperm competition – the attributes within a sperm that make one sperm more successful at reaching and fertilising the egg than its peers.

'This question of sperm competition has baffled scientists for years,' said Dr Karr.

'If we can work out what makes one sperm more successful than another,
'"/>




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