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A novel asparaginase-like protein is a sperm autoantigen in rats.

A novel asparaginase-like protein (ALP) of spermatozoa was cloned from rat and human testis cDNA libraries on the basis of reactivity with antibodies produced after vasectomy. Although obstruction of the male reproductive tract is known to cause an immunologic response, few of the sperm antigens responsible for the generation of autoantibodies have been characterized. We are identifying proteins of interest by coring autoantigenic protein spots from two-dimensional (2-D) gels of rat sperm extracts and microsequencing them by mass spectrometry. The peptide sequences from ALP, a 28 kDa, pI 5.7 protein, matched to a single partial length rat EST. These peptide sequences were used to clone a cDNA encoding a novel 333 amino acid open reading frame. The new protein had a similarity to portions of L-asparaginases of plants (43%) and to glycosylasparaginases in animal cells (32%). Human ALP cDNA was subsequently cloned. It showed 77% identity to the rat ALP sequence and the gene, ASRGL1 (asparaginase-like 1), mapped to chromosome locus 11q12.3. Purified recombinant rat ALP (rALP), expressed in E. coli, was used to raise polyclonal antiserum in guinea pigs. Two observations verified that the correct protein had been cloned: 1) the anti-rALP antibody reacted with both rALP and rat sperm; and 2) post-vasectomy sera bound rALP. Anti-rALP antibody stained the midpiece of rat and human sperm coincident with staining by MitoTracker Green FM, suggesting that ALP is associated with the mitochondria. Northern analysis revealed that rat ALP message was abundantly expressed in the testis but was also present in heart, brain, liver, skeletal muscle, and kidney.
Leigh Ann Bush, John C Herr, Michael Wolkowicz, Nicholas E Sherman, Amy Shore, Charles J Flickinger

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