The cytoskeletal calyx structure surrounding part of the nucleus of the mammalian sperm head contains two major kinds of basic proteins, i.e., the approximately 60-kD calicin and a group of very basic (IEP > pH 10) polypeptides ranging in size from approximately 58 to approximately 100 kD ("multiple band proteins," MBPs). We have produced MBP-specific mAbs and have isolated a bovine and a human cDNA clone encoding one of these proteins, termed "cylicin" (from the Greek word c eta kv lambda l zeta for cup or beaker). Bovine cylicin I of a calculated molecular weight of 74,788 contains a high proportion (29%) of positively charged amino acids, resulting in an IEP of 10.55, numerous KKD tripeptides, and is characterized by an organization of the central part of the molecule in nine repeating units of maximally 41 amino acids each of which according to prediction analysis should tend to form an alpha helix. The identity of the polypeptide has been proven by direct amino acid sequencing of > 14 different fragments and by experiments using antibodies raised against a partial cDNA-derived protein segment produced in E. coli. By Northern blot analysis we have identified the 2.4-kb cylicin I mRNA only in testis. The unusual cytoskeletal protein cylicin is compared with other proteins and its possible architectural role during spermiogenesis is discussed.

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