Expression of the O-Glycosylation Enzyme GalNAc-T3 in the Equatorial Segment Correlates with the Quality of Spermatozoa

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We question whether the expression of GalNAc-T3, the only known O-GalNAc-transferase present in germ cells, is correlated with qualitative and functional parameters of spermatozoa. We investigated the expression of GalNAc-T3 in ejaculated spermatozoa with immunocytochemistry in swim-up purified and acrosome-reacted spermatozoa from quality-control semen donors and in semen samples from 206 randomly selected men representing a broad spectrum of semen quality. Using donor ejaculates and immunofluorescence detection we found that expression of GalNAc-T3 and the presence of the immature O-glycans Tn and T localized to the equatorial segment of spermatozoa. The proportion of GalNAc-T3-positive spermatozoa in the ejaculate increased after swim-up and appeared unaffected by induction of acrosomal exocytosis. The fraction of spermatozoa with equatorial expression of GalNAc-T3 correlated with classical semen parameters (concentration p = 9 × 10−6, morphology p = 7 × 10−8, and motility p = 1.8 × 10−5) and was significantly lower in men with oligoteratoasthenozoospermia (p = 0.0048). In conclusion, GalNAc-T3 was highly expressed by motile spermatozoa and the expression correlated positively with the classical semen parameters. Therefore, GalNAc-T3 expression seems related to the quality of the spermatozoa, and we propose that reduced expression of GalNAc-T3 may lead to impaired O-glycosylation of proteins and thereby abnormal maturation and reduced functionality of the spermatozoa.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2949
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1-13
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • GalNAc-T3, GALNT3, Male fertility, Semen quality, Mucin-type O-linked glycosylation, Spermatozoa

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