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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Stable bull fertility protein markers in seminal plasma

Willforss, J.; Morrell, J. M.; Resjo, S.; Hallap, T.; Padrik, P.; Siino, V; de Koning, D. J.; Andreasson, E.; Levander, F.; Humblot, P.

Abstract

Bull fertility is an important trait in breeding as the semen of one bull can, potentially, be used to perform thousands of inseminations. The high number of inseminations needed to obtain reliable measures from NonReturn Rates to oestrus creates difficulties in assessing fertility accurately. Improving molecular knowledge of seminal properties may provide ways to facilitate selection of bulls with good semen quality. In this study, liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was used to analyze the protein content from the seminal plasma of 20 bulls with Non-Return Rates between 35 and 60%, sampled across three seasons. Overall, 1343 proteins were identified and proteins with consistent correlation to fertility across multiple seasons found. From these, nine protein groups had a significant Pearson correlation (p < 0.1) with fertility in all three seasons and 34 protein groups had a similar correlation in at least two seasons. Among notable proteins showing a high and consistent correlation across seasons were Osteopontin, a lipase (LIPA) and N-acetylglucosamine-1 phospho-transferase subunit gamma. Three proteins were combined in a multiple linear regression to predict fertility (r = 0.81). These sets of proteins represent potential markers, which could be used by the breeding industry to phenotype bull fertility.Significance: The ability of bull spermatozoa to fertilize oocytes is crucial for breeding efficiency. However, the reliability of this trait from field measures is relatively low and the prediction of fertility given by conventional methods to evaluate sperm quality is currently not very accurate. In this work, we identify sets of proteins in bull seminal plasma from repeated samples collected at different times of the year that correlate to fertility in a consistent way. We combined these individual proteins to build a molecular signature predictive of fertility. This study provides an overview of proteins linked to fertility in seminal plasma, thereby increasing knowledge of the bull seminal plasma proteome. Protein signatures from the latter, potentially related to fertility, may be of use to predict fertility for individual bulls.

Keywords

Bos taurus; Seminal plasma; Fertility; Proteomics; Seasonal variation

Published in

Journal of Proteomics
2021, Volume: 236, article number: 104135
Publisher: ELSEVIER