The epididymis of the male reproductive system is known to be involved in sperm maturation via the production of polypeptides, glycoproteins, surface proteins, enzymes and other factors. During the annual reproductive cycle, the epididymis of the lizard Eutropis carinata undergoes dramatic changes, both morphologically and biochemically, that occur in a well-organized sequence. The present study reveals the sequential changes that occur in the production and concentration of proteins in the epididymal luminal fluid throughout the annual reproductive cycle. A one-dimensional electrophoretic profile of the epididymal luminal proteins revealed a total of 18 bands in the regenerative phase, 22 bands during breeding and 17 bands in the post-breeding as well as regressed phases of the reproductive cycle. By two-dimensional electrophoresis, the protein complexes that are unique to the breeding phase were further resolved based on their pI and the molecular weight of each protein of the protein complex was determined. This is the first study to observe that proteins that are present during the reproductively inactive phase disappear during the reproductively active phase. The Periodic Acid Schiff (PAS) test for protein profiles revealed the presence of proteins with a carbohydrate moiety. Certain enzymes, such as acid phosphatase, alkaline phosphatase, and α-glucosidase, are highly sensitive to seasonal changes and their activity parallels the production of the epididymal proteins. This study provides evidence for androgen-dependent cyclical changes in the pattern of protein profiles and enzyme activity of the epididymal lumen in the lizard E. carinata.
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