In animals with internal fertilization, seminal proteins transferred with sperm play crucial roles in the fertility of both males and females. This is best understood in the model system Drosophila, whose seminal proteins (""""""""Acps"""""""") induce females to increase egg production, store sperm, and modify their behavior, but also to die younger than unmated females. We have identified 90% of all Acps in the fly genome (52 genes). They include members of conserved seminal-protein classes such as peptides, sperm-binding proteins and protease inhibitors; 29% show signs of having evolved rapidly, a trait seen for reproductive proteins in many organisms. We have also identified effectors and genes regulated by Acps in mated females. Our goal is to determine the Acps that mediate specific reproductive changes in females, and how they carry out their functions.
In Aim 1 we will screen for the reproductive function of individual Acps. We will assess the targeting, biochemical activity and structure of these molecules. We will determine their in vivo functions by ectopic expression assays in females, and by the consequences of removing individual Acps from males. We have adapted the Gateway cloning system to carry out these assays with high efficiency.
In Aim 2 we will analyze in detail the functions of individual Acps that regulate egg production, sperm storage or lifespan effects/protease inhibition. Initially we will extend our analysis of three Acps, each representing one of these areas. We will determine molecular requirements for their activity, the downstream genes/effectors they regulate, and their binding proteins. We will then similarly analyze Acps identified in Aim 1 to be important in egg production, sperm storage or proteolysis regulation. Through this revised research plan we will obtain a comprehensive functional view of the fly tissue analogous to the mammalian prostate gland, and a specific view of the actions of individual seminal proteins and the responses they trigger in females. This information will help us understand the molecular interactions between males and females, and to evaluate hypotheses about the functions and evolution of reproductive proteins. In addition to their relevance to reproductive mechanisms in a range of organisms including mammals, we anticipate that our findings will have practical applications in the control of insect vectors of human disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
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Cellular, Molecular and Integrative Reproduction Study Section (CMIR)
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Taymans, Susan
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Cornell University
Schools of Earth Sciences/Natur
United States
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Maeda, Robert K; Sitnik, Jessica L; Frei, Yohan et al. (2018) The lncRNA male-specific abdominal plays a critical role in Drosophila accessory gland development and male fertility. PLoS Genet 14:e1007519
Billeter, Jean-Christophe; Wolfner, Mariana F (2018) Chemical Cues that Guide Female Reproduction in Drosophila melanogaster. J Chem Ecol 44:750-769
Cohen, Allie B; Wolfner, Mariana F (2018) Dynamic changes in ejaculatory bulb size during Drosophila melanogaster aging and mating. J Insect Physiol 107:152-156
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Avila, Frank W; Wolfner, Mariana F (2017) Cleavage of the Drosophila seminal protein Acp36DE in mated females enhances its sperm storage activity. J Insect Physiol 101:66-72
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Sharma, Vandana; Pandey, Anuj K; Kumar, Ajay et al. (2017) Functional male accessory glands and fertility in Drosophila require novel ecdysone receptor. PLoS Genet 13:e1006788
Chapman, Tracey; Wolfner, Mariana F (2017) Reproductive behaviour: Make love, then war. Nat Ecol Evol 1:174

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