Meeting Abstract

S6-2.1  Jan. 5  Functions of seminal proteins in reproductive interactions between the sexes in Drosophila WOLFNER, M.F.*; RAVI RAM, K.; MUELLER, J.M.; WONG, A.; MCGRAW, L.A.; ALBRIGHT, S.N.; SIROT, L.K.; PAGE, J.L.; Cornell University; Cornell University; Cornell University; Cornell University; Cornell University; Cornell University; Cornell University; Cornell University mfw5@cornell.edu

The seminal proteins that females receive during mating play roles in sperm storage and utilization, and in changes to the female’s physiology that can enhance fertility. Though the primary sequences (and even the presence of) some particular seminal protein genes vary among animals, the conservation of biochemical classes in seminal fluid suggests a conservation of functions. To address these functions, we have carried out genetic, RNAi, physiological and biochemical experiments in Drosophila melanogaster. We have identified seminal proteins that modulate the female’s ability to store sperm, to mount an immune response, to ovulate large numbers of eggs, and that affect her viability and aspects of her transcriptome. We are particularly interested in seminal proteins as agents of chemical communication, mediating interactions between individuals. An example illustrating these interactions at the biochemical level will be presented. This example concerns a seminal protease that is made in a precursor form in males. As the protein transits through the male, on its way to the female, it is modified in a manner consistent with activation. However, the protease does not act until it is within the female! There, it mediates the processing of at least two other seminal proteins that affect sperm storage or ovulation, respectively. Molecular cooperation between the sexes may regulate male-derived modulators’ effects on females.