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Vertebrate reproductive science and technology

145 ProAKAP4 concentrations in semen as a predictive tool of bull fertility: A preliminary study

I. Ruelle A , N. Seregeant B C , D. Bencharif A , F. Charreaux D , C. Thorin A , S. Michaud A , M. Dordas-Perpinyà A , N. Jouy B , S. Audry B , C. Maurage B , M. Delehedde C and L. Briand-Amirat A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Oniris, Nantes-Atlantic College of Veterinary Medicine, Nantes France;

B University of Lille, INSERM, UMRS 1172, Lille, France;

C SPQI-4BioDx-Breeding Section, Lille, France;

D Evolution XY, Rennes, France

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 32(2) 199-199
Published: 2 December 2019


Recently, ProAKAP4 has been described as a pertinent indicator of sperm quality in humans, pigs, and stallions. In knockout mouse models lacking AKAP4 expression, the male mice were infertile. As high proAKAP4 levels were significantly correlated with a lower proportion of abortions in intrauterine insemination settings in human reproduction, proAKAP4 could be considered a pertinent new sperm parameter for assessing embryo quality. Our main goal was to assess the proAKAP4 concentrations in Holstein bull semen for comparison with the motility sperm parameters and fertility outcomes in post-thawed conditions. Straws issued from 52 ejaculates from 13 bulls, retrospectively identified with known nonreturn rates (NRR) as a fertility indicator, were provided by Evolution XY. Expression of ProAKAP4 and AKAP4 was assessed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, western blotting, flow cytometry, and microscopy methods. Using the Bull 4MID kit (4BioDx), striking variations in proAKAP4 concentrations were observed independently of the classic sperm parameters that were measured using computer-assisted semen analysis. A mean proAKAP4 concentration of 44.42 ng per 10 million spermatozoa was obtained through all our series. Interestingly, the variations in proAKAP4 concentrations were positively correlated with progressive motility and with the linearity coefficient parameter. Furthermore, the post-thawed concentrations of proAKAP4 were significantly higher in bulls with a higher NRR in a field study of more than 190 000 AI. We then demonstrated for the first time a correlation between the semen concentration of proAKAP4 and NRR (P = 0.05) in bulls. Threshold values of proAKAP4 were then determined, with good values being between 25 and 60 ng mL−1. Below 25 ng mL−1, the sperm were of poor quality. The proportion of functional spermatozoa (i.e. spermatozoa expressing proAKAP4 in ejaculates) was assessed using flow cytometry. We observed that the cell debris and dead spermatozoa were never immunolabeled with proAKAP4 antibodies. On testis tissue sections, proAKAP4 was expressed only from the spermatids stages up to the ejaculated spermatozoa, being influenced by external factors and reflecting good spermatogenesis. Our preliminary study highlighted the pertinence of proAKAP4 in assessing sperm quality in bulls. It could be interesting to further analyse the effect of proAKAP4 level of expression on capacitation and IVF. As high levels of proAKAP4 were significantly correlated with fertility rates and with progressive motility, proAKAP4 could be proposed as a predictive marker of bull fertility and could be further investigated to evaluate the quality of in vitro-produced embryos.