spe-43 is required for sperm activation in C. elegans

Amber R. Krauchunas, Ernesto Mendez, Julie Zhouli Ni, Marina Druzhinina, Amanda Mulia, Jean Parry, Sam Guoping Gu, Gillian M. Stanfield, Andrew Singson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Successful fertilization requires that sperm are activated prior to contacting an oocyte. In C. elegans, this activation process, called spermiogenesis, transforms round immobile spermatids into motile, fertilization-competent spermatozoa. We describe the phenotypic and genetic characterization of spe-43, a new component of the spe-8 pathway, which is required for spermiogenesis in hermaphrodites; spe-43 hermaphrodites are self-sterile, while spe-43 males show wild-type fertility. When exposed to Pronase to activate sperm in vitro, spe-43 spermatids form long rigid spikes radiating outward from the cell periphery instead of forming a motile pseudopod, indicating that spermiogenesis initiates but is not completed. Using a combination of recombinant and deletion mapping and whole genome sequencing, we identified F09E8.1 as spe-43. SPE-43 is predicted to exist in two isoforms; one isoform appears to be a single-pass transmembrane protein while the other is predicted to be a secreted protein. SPE-43 can bind to other known sperm proteins, including SPE-4 and SPE-29, which are known to impact spermiogenesis. In summary, we have identified a membrane protein that is present in C. elegans sperm and is required for sperm activation via the hermaphrodite activation signal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


  • C. elegans
  • Sperm
  • Sperm activation
  • Spermiogenesis


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