The seminal fluid proteome of the honeybee Apis mellifera

dou 10.1002/pmic.200800708


Ejaculates contain sperm but also seminal fluid, which is increasingly recognized to be of central importance for reproductive success. However, a detailed biochemical composition and physiological understanding of seminal fluid is still elusive. We have used MS to identify the 57 most abundant proteins within the ejaculated seminal fluid of the honeybee Apis mellifera. Their amino acid sequences revealed the presence of diverse functional categories of enzymes, regulators and structural proteins. A number have known or predicted roles in maintaining sperm viability, protecting sperm from microbial infections or interacting with the physiology of the female. A range of putative glycoproteins or glycosylation enzymes were detected among the 57, subsequent fluorescent staining of glycolysation revealed several prominant glycoproteins in seminal fluid, while no glycoproteins were detected in sperm samples. Many of the abundant proteins that accumulate in the seminal fluid did not contain predictable tags for secretion for the cell. Comparison of the honeybee seminal fluid proteins with Drosophila seminal fluid proteins (including secreted accessory gland proteins known as ACPs), and with the human seminal fluid proteome revealed the bee protein set contains a range of newly identified seminal fluid proteins and we noted more similarity of the bee protein set with the current human seminal fluid protein set than with the known Drosophila seminal fluid proteins. The honeybee seminal fluid proteome thus represents an important addition to available data for comparative studies of seminal fluid proteomes in insects.

Key Words

Drosophila / Ejaculate / Human / MS/MS / Reproductive success