RNA-seq coupled to proteomic analysis reveals high sperm proteome variation between two closely related marine mussel species


Speciation mechanisms in marine organisms have attracted great interest because of the apparent lack of substantial barriers to genetic exchange in marine ecosystems. Marine mussels of the Mytilus edulis species complex provide a good model to study mechanisms underlying species formation. They hybridise extensively at many localities and both pre- and postzygotic isolating mechanisms may be operating. Mussels have external fertilisation and sperm cells should show specific adaptations for survival and successful fertilisation. Sperm thus represent key targets in investigations of the molecular mechanisms underlying reproductive isolation. We undertook a deep transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) of mature male gonads and a 2DE/MS-based proteome analysis of sperm from Mytilus edulis and M. galloprovincialis raised in a common environment. We provide evidence of extensive expression differences between the two mussel species, and general agreement between the transcriptomic and proteomic results in the direction of expression differences between species. Differential expression is marked for mitochondrial genes and for those involved in spermatogenesis, sperm motility, sperm-egg interactions, the acrosome reaction, sperm capacitation, ATP reserves and ROS production. Proteins and their corresponding genes might thus be good targets in further genomic analysis of reproductive barriers between these closely related species.

Journal of Proteomics, In Press