Immunocytochemical Localization of Olfactory-signaling Molecules in Human and Rat Spermatozoa

Yuliya Makeyeva, Christopher Nicol, William L. Ledger, David K. Ryugo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Expression of olfactory receptors (ORs) in non-olfactory tissues has been widely reported over the last 20 years. Olfactory marker protein (OMP) is highly expressed in mature olfactory sensory neurons (mOSNs) of the olfactory epithelium. It is involved in the olfactory signal transduction pathway, which is mediated by well-conserved components, including ORs, olfactory G protein (Golf), and adenylyl cyclase 3 (AC3). OMP is widely expressed in non-olfactory tissues with an apparent preference for motile cells. We hypothesized that OMP is expressed in compartment-specific locations and co-localize with an OR, Golf, and AC3 in rat epididymal and human-ejaculated spermatozoa. We used immunocytochemistry to examine the expression patterns of OMP and OR6B2 (human OR, served as positive olfactory control) in experimentally induced modes of activation and determine whether there are any observable differences in proteins expression during the post-ejaculatory stages of spermatozoal functional maturation. We found that OMP was expressed in compartment-specific locations in human and rat spermatozoa. OMP was co-expressed with Golf and AC3 in rat spermatozoa and with OR6B2 in all three modes of activation (control, activated, and hyperactivated), and the mode of activation changed the co-expression pattern in acrosomal-reacted human spermatozoa. These observations suggest that OMP expression is a reliable indicator of OR-mediated chemoreception, may be used to identify ectopically expressed ORs, and could participate in second messenger signaling cascades that mediate fertility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-513
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • chemoreception
  • fluorescence microscopy
  • interstitial tissue
  • olfactory epithelium
  • olfactory marker protein
  • reproduction
  • sperm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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