Plasticity of the mouse seminal vesical fluid proteome

Helen L Bayram, Catarina Franco, Philip Brownridge, Amy J Claydon, Natalie Koch, Jane L Hurst, Robert J Beynon, Paula Stockley (2020) Social status and ejaculate composition in the house mouse
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 75(1813):20200083. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2020.0083.

Sperm competition theory predicts that males should tailor ejaculates according to their social status. Here, we test this in a model vertebrate, the house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus), combining experimental data with a quantitative proteomics analysis of seminal fluid composition. Our analyses reveal that both sperm production and the composition of proteins found in seminal vesicle secretions differ according to social status. Dominant males invested more in ejaculate production overall. Their epididymides contained more sperm than those of subordinate or control males, despite similar testes size between the groups. Dominant males also had larger seminal vesicle glands than subordinate or control males, despite similar body size. However, the seminal vesicle secretions of subordinate males had a significantly higher protein concentration than those of dominant males. Moreover, detailed proteomic analysis revealed subtle but consistent differences in the composition of secreted seminal vesicle proteins according to social status, involving multiple proteins of potential functional significance in sperm competition. These findings have significant implications for understanding the dynamics and outcome of sperm competition, and highlight the importance of social status as a factor influencing both sperm and seminal fluid investment strategies.

This article is part of the theme issue 'Fifty years of sperm competition'.