Spermatocyte/spermatid-specific thioredoxin-3, a novel golgi apparatus-associated thioredoxin, is a specific marker of aberrant spermatogenesis

Alberto Jiménez, Wei Zu, Vanesa Y. Rawe, Markku Pelto-Huikko, Charles J. Flickinger, Peter Sutovsky, Jan Åke Gustafsson, Richard Oko, Antonio Miranda-Vizuete

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63 Scopus citations


Mammalian germ cells are endowed with a complete set of thioredoxins (Trx), a class of redox proteins located in specific structures of the spermatid and sperm tail. We report here the characterization, under normal and pathological conditions, of a novel thioredoxin with a germ line-restricted expression pattern, named spermatocyte/spermatid-specific thioredoxin-3 (SPTRX-3). The human SPTRX-3 gene maps at 9q32, only 50 kb downstream from the TRX-1 gene from which it probably originated as genomic duplication. Therefore, human SPTRX-3 protein comprises a unique thioredoxin domain displaying high homology with the ubiquitously expressed TRX-1. Among the tissues investigated, Sptrx-3 mRNA is found exclusively in the male germ cells at pachytene spermatocyte and round spermatid stages. Light and electron microscopy show SPTRX-3 protein to be predominately located in the Golgi apparatus of pachytene spermatocytes and round and elongated spermatids, with a transient localization in the developing acrosome of round spermatids. In addition, increased levels of SPTRX-3, possibly caused by overexpression, are observed in morphologically abnormal human spermatozoa from infertile men. In addition, SPTRX-3 is identified as a novel postobstruction autoantigen. In this report, we propose that SPTRX-3 can be used as a specific marker for diverse sperm and testis pathologies. SPTRX-3 is the first thioredoxin specific to the Golgi apparatus, and its function within this organelle might be related to the post-translational modification of proteins required for germ cell-specific functions, such as acrosomal biogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34971-34982
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 13 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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