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Research article2017Peer reviewedOpen access

Conserved gene expression in sperm reservoirs between birds and mammals in response to mating

Atikuzzaman, Mohammad; Alvarez-Rodriguez, Manuel; Carrillo, Alejandro Vicente; Johnsson, Martin; Wright, Dominic; Rodriguez-Martinez, Heriberto


Background: Spermatozoa are stored in the oviductal functional sperm reservoir in animals with internal fertilization, including zoologically distant classes such as pigs or poultry. They are held fertile in the reservoir for times ranging from a couple of days (in pigs), to several weeks (in chickens), before they are gradually released to fertilize the newly ovulated eggs. It is currently unknown whether females from these species share conserved mechanisms to tolerate such a lengthy presence of immunologically-foreign spermatozoa. Therefore, global gene expression was assessed using cDNA microarrays on tissue collected from the avian utero-vaginal junction (UVJ), and the porcine utero-tubal junction (UTJ) to determine expression changes after mating (entire semen deposition) or in vivo cloacal/cervical infusion of sperm-free seminal fluid (SF)/seminal plasma (SP).Results: In chickens, mating changed the expression of 303 genes and SF-infusion changed the expression of 931 genes, as compared to controls, with 68 genes being common to both treatments. In pigs, mating or SP-infusion changed the expressions of 1,722 and 1,148 genes, respectively, as compared to controls, while 592 genes were common to both treatments. The differentially expressed genes were significantly enriched for GO categories related to immune system functions (35.72-fold enrichment). The top 200 differentially expressed genes of each treatment in each animal class were analysed for gene ontology. In both pig and chicken, an excess of genes affecting local immune defence were activated, though frequently these were down-regulated. Similar genes were found in both the chicken and pig, either involved in pH-regulation (SLC16A2, SLC4A9, SLC13A1, SLC35F1, ATP8B3, ATP13A3) or immune-modulation (IFIT5, IFI16, MMP27, ADAMTS3, MMP3, MMP12).Conclusion: Despite being phylogenetically distant, chicken and pig appear to share some gene functions for the preservation of viable spermatozoa in the female reservoirs.


Oviduct; Sperm reservoir; Microarray; Bioinformatics; Chicken; Pig

Published in

BMC Genomics
2017, Volume: 18, article number: 98

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Genetics and Breeding

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