The Drosophila melanogaster seminal fluid protein Acp62F is a protease inhibitor that is toxic upon ectopic expression.
ABSTRACT: Drosophila melanogaster seminal fluid proteins stimulate sperm storage and egg laying in the mated female but also cause a reduction in her life span. We report here that of eight Drosophila seminal fluid proteins (Acps) and one non-Acp tested, only Acp62F is toxic when ectopically expressed. Toxicity to preadult male or female Drosophila occurs upon one exposure, whereas multiple exposures are needed for toxicity to adult female flies. Of the Acp62F received by females during mating, approximately 10% enters the circulatory system while approximately 90% remains in the reproductive tract. We show that in the reproductive tract, Acp62F localizes to the lumen of the uterus and the female's sperm storage organs. Analysis of Acp62F's sequence, and biochemical assays, reveals that it encodes a trypsin inhibitor with sequence and structural similarities to extracellular serine protease inhibitors from the nematode Ascaris. In light of previous results demonstrating entry of Acp62F into the mated female's hemolymph, we propose that Acp62F is a candidate for a molecule to contribute to the Acp-dependent decrease in female life span. We propose that Acp62F's protease inhibitor activity exerts positive protective functions in the mated female's reproductive tract but that entry of a small amount of this protein into the female's hemolymph could contribute to the cost of mating.
Project description:In a multitude of animals with internal fertilization, including insects and mammals, sperm are stored within a female's reproductive tract after mating. Defects in the process of sperm storage drastically reduce reproductive success. In Drosophila males, "Acp" seminal proteins alter female postmating physiology and behavior, and are necessary for several aspects of sperm storage. For example, Acps cause a series of conformational changes in the mated female's reproductive tract that occur during and immediately after mating. These conformational changes have been hypothesized to aid both in the movement of sperm within the female and in the subsequent storage of those sperm. We used RNAi to systematically knock down several Acps involved in sperm storage to determine whether they played a role in the mating-induced uterine conformational changes. Mates of males lacking the glycoprotein Acp36DE, which is needed for the accumulation of sperm in the storage organs, fail to complete the full sequence of the conformational changes. Our results show that uterine conformational changes are important for proper accumulation of sperm in storage and identify a seminal protein that mediates these changes. Four Acps included in this study, previously shown to affect sperm release from storage (CG9997, CG1656, CG1652, and CG17575), are not necessary for uterine conformational changes to occur. Rather, consistent with their role in later steps of sperm storage, we show here that their presence can affect the outcome of sperm competition situations.
Project description:Male Drosophila flies secrete seminal-fluid proteins that mediate proper sperm storage and fertilization, and that induce changes in female behavior. Females also produce reproductive-tract secretions, yet their contributions to postmating physiology are poorly understood. Large secretory cells line the female's spermathecae, a pair of sperm-storage organs. We identified the regulatory regions controlling transcription of two genes exclusively expressed in these spermathecal secretory cells (SSC): Spermathecal endopeptidase 1 (Send1), which is expressed in both unmated and mated females, and Spermathecal endopeptidase 2 (Send2), which is induced by mating. We used these regulatory sequences to perform precise genetic ablations of the SSC at distinct time points relative to mating. We show that the SSC are required for recruiting sperm to the spermathecae, but not for retaining sperm there. The SSC also act at a distance in the reproductive tract, in that their ablation: (1) reduces sperm motility in the female's other sperm-storage organ, the seminal receptacle; and (2) causes ovoviviparity--the retention and internal development of fertilized eggs. These results establish the reproductive functions of the SSC, shed light on the evolution of live birth, and open new avenues for studying and manipulating female fertility in insects.
Project description:Within the mated reproductive tracts of females of many taxa, seminal fluid proteins (SFPs) coagulate into a structure known as the mating plug (MP). MPs have diverse roles, including preventing female remating, altering female receptivity postmating, and being necessary for mated females to successfully store sperm. The Drosophila melanogaster MP, which is maintained in the mated female for several hours postmating, is comprised of a posterior MP (PMP) that forms quickly after mating begins and an anterior MP (AMP) that forms later. The PMP is composed of seminal proteins from the ejaculatory bulb (EB) of the male reproductive tract. To examine the role of the PMP protein PEBme in D. melanogaster reproduction, we identified an EB GAL4 driver and used it to target PEBme for RNA interference (RNAi) knockdown. PEBme knockdown in males compromised PMP coagulation in their mates and resulted in a significant reduction in female fertility, adversely affecting postmating uterine conformation, sperm storage, mating refractoriness, egg laying, and progeny generation. These defects resulted from the inability of females to retain the ejaculate in their reproductive tracts after mating. The uncoagulated MP impaired uncoupling by the knockdown male, and when he ultimately uncoupled, the ejaculate was often pulled out of the female. Thus, PEBme and MP coagulation are required for optimal fertility in D. melanogaster. Given the importance of the PMP for fertility, we identified additional MP proteins by mass spectrometry and found fertility functions for two of them. Our results highlight the importance of the MP and the proteins that comprise it in reproduction and suggest that in Drosophila the PMP is required to retain the ejaculate within the female reproductive tract, ensuring the storage of sperm by mated females.
Project description:Successful reproduction is critical to pass genes to the next generation. Seminal proteins contribute to important reproductive processes that lead to fertilization in species ranging from insects to mammals. In Drosophila, the male's accessory gland is a source of seminal fluid proteins that affect the reproductive output of males and females by altering female post-mating behavior and physiology. Protein classes found in the seminal fluid of Drosophila are similar to those of other organisms, including mammals. By using RNA interference (RNAi) to knock down levels of individual accessory gland proteins (Acps), we investigated the role of 25 Acps in mediating three post-mating female responses: egg production, receptivity to remating and storage of sperm. We detected roles for five Acps in these post-mating responses. CG33943 is required for full stimulation of egg production on the first day after mating. Four other Acps (CG1652, CG1656, CG17575, and CG9997) appear to modulate the long-term response, which is the maintenance of post-mating behavior and physiological changes. The long-term post-mating response requires presence of sperm in storage and, until now, had been known to require only a single Acp. Here, we discovered several novel Acps together are required which together are required for sustained egg production, reduction in receptivity to remating of the mated female and for promotion of stored sperm release from the seminal receptacle. Our results also show that members of conserved protein classes found in seminal plasma from insects to mammals are essential for important reproductive processes.
Project description:In many species, sperm can remain viable in the reproductive tract of a female well beyond the typical interval to remating. This creates an opportunity for sperm from different males to compete for oocyte fertilization inside the female's reproductive tract. In Drosophila melanogaster, sperm characteristics and seminal fluid content affect male success in sperm competition. On the other hand, although genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have demonstrated that female genotype plays a role in sperm competition outcome as well, the biochemical, sensory, and physiological processes by which females detect and selectively use sperm from different males remain elusive. Here, we functionally tested 26 candidate genes implicated via a GWAS for their contribution to the female's role in sperm competition, measured as changes in the relative success of the first male to mate (P1). Of these 26 candidates, we identified eight genes that affect P1 when knocked down in females, and showed that five of them do so when knocked down in the female nervous system. In particular, Rim knockdown in sensory pickpocket (ppk)+ neurons lowered P1, confirming previously published results, and a novel candidate, caup, lowered P1 when knocked down in octopaminergic Tdc2+ neurons. These results demonstrate that specific neurons in the female's nervous system play a functional role in sperm competition and expand our understanding of the genetic, neuronal, and mechanistic basis of female responses to multiple matings. We propose that these neurons in females are used to sense, and integrate, signals from courtship or ejaculates, to modulate sperm competition outcome accordingly.
Project description:Male reproductive glands secrete signals into seminal fluid to facilitate reproductive success. In Drosophila melanogaster, these signals are generated by a variety of seminal peptides, many produced by the accessory glands (AGs). One epithelial cell type in the adult male AGs, the secondary cell (SC), grows selectively in response to bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling. This signaling is involved in blocking the rapid remating of mated females, which contributes to the reproductive advantage of the first male to mate. In this paper, we show that SCs secrete exosomes, membrane-bound vesicles generated inside late endosomal multivesicular bodies (MVBs). After mating, exosomes fuse with sperm (as also seen in vitro for human prostate-derived exosomes and sperm) and interact with female reproductive tract epithelia. Exosome release was required to inhibit female remating behavior, suggesting that exosomes are downstream effectors of BMP signaling. Indeed, when BMP signaling was reduced in SCs, vesicles were still formed in MVBs but not secreted as exosomes. These results demonstrate a new function for the MVB-exosome pathway in the reproductive tract that appears to be conserved across evolution.
Project description:Physiological changes in females during and after mating are triggered by seminal fluid components in conjunction with female-derived molecules. In insects, these changes include increased egg production, storage of sperm, and changes in muscle contraction within the reproductive tract (RT). Such postmating changes have been studied in dissected RT tissues, but understanding their coordination in vivo requires a holistic view of the tissues and their interrelationships. Here, we used high-resolution, multiscale micro-computed tomography (CT) scans to visualize and measure postmating changes in situ in the Drosophila female RT before, during, and after mating. These studies reveal previously unidentified dynamic changes in the conformation of the female RT that occur after mating. Our results also reveal how the reproductive organs temporally shift in concert within the confines of the abdomen. For example, we observed chiral loops in the uterus and in the upper common oviduct that relax and constrict throughout sperm storage and egg movement. We found that specific seminal fluid proteins or female secretions mediate some of the postmating changes in morphology. The morphological movements, in turn, can cause further changes due to the connections among organs. In addition, we observed apparent copulatory damage to the female intima, suggesting a mechanism for entry of seminal proteins, or other exogenous components, into the female's circulatory system. The 3D reconstructions provided by high-resolution micro-CT scans reveal how male and female molecules and anatomy interface to carry out and coordinate mating-dependent changes in the female's reproductive physiology.
Project description:Proteins and peptides in Drosophila melanogaster seminal fluid induce mated females to increase their rates of egg deposition. One seminal-fluid protein, ovulin (Acp26Aa), stimulates an early step in the egg-laying process, the release of oocytes by the ovary. Ovulin, upon transfer to females, is cleaved sequentially within the mated female's reproductive tract. Here, we show that systemic ectopic expression of ovulin is sufficient to stimulate ovulation in unmated females. By using this assay to assess the functionality of ovulin's cleavage products, we find that two of the four cleavage products of ovulin can stimulate ovulation independently. Thus, ovulin's cleavage in mated females is not destructive and instead may liberate additional functional products with potential to modulate ovulation independently.
Project description:Seminal fluid proteins transferred from males to females during copulation are required for full fertility and can exert dramatic effects on female physiology and behavior. In Drosophila melanogaster, the seminal protein sex peptide (SP) affects mated females by increasing egg production and decreasing receptivity to courtship. These behavioral changes persist for several days because SP binds to sperm that are stored in the female. SP is then gradually released, allowing it to interact with its female-expressed receptor. The binding of SP to sperm requires five additional seminal proteins, which act together in a network. Hundreds of uncharacterized male and female proteins have been identified in this species, but individually screening each protein for network function would present a logistical challenge. To prioritize the screening of these proteins for involvement in the SP network, we used a comparative genomic method to identify candidate proteins whose evolutionary rates across the Drosophila phylogeny co-vary with those of the SP network proteins. Subsequent functional testing of 18 co-varying candidates by RNA interference identified three male seminal proteins and three female reproductive tract proteins that are each required for the long-term persistence of SP responses in females. Molecular genetic analysis showed the three new male proteins are required for the transfer of other network proteins to females and for SP to become bound to sperm that are stored in mated females. The three female proteins, in contrast, act downstream of SP binding and sperm storage. These findings expand the number of seminal proteins required for SP's actions in the female and show that multiple female proteins are necessary for the SP response. Furthermore, our functional analyses demonstrate that evolutionary rate covariation is a valuable predictive tool for identifying candidate members of interacting protein networks.
Project description:Seminal fluid proteins elicit several post-mating physiological changes in mated Drosophila melanogaster females. Some of these changes persist for over a week after mating because the seminal protein that causes these changes, the Sex Peptide (SP), binds to sperm that are stored in the female reproductive tract. SP's sperm binding is mediated by a network of at least eight seminal proteins. We show here that some of these network proteins (CG1656, CG1652, CG9997 and Antares) bind to sperm within 2?h of mating, like SP. However, while SP remains bound to sperm at 4 days post-mating, none of the other network proteins are detectable at this time. We also observed that the same network proteins are detectable at 2?h post-mating in seminal receptacle tissue from which sperm have been removed, but are no longer detectable there by 4 days post-mating, suggesting short-term retention of these proteins in this female sperm storage organ. Our results suggest that these network proteins act transiently to facilitate the conditions for SP's binding to sperm, perhaps by modifying SP or the sperm surface, but are not part of a long-acting complex that stably attaches SP to sperm.