Although several long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have recently been shown to encode small polypeptides, those in testis remain largely uncharacterized. Here we identify two sperm-specific polypeptides, Kastor and Polluks, encoded by a single mouse locus (Gm9999) previously annotated as encoding a lncRNA. Both Kastor and Polluks are inserted in the outer mitochondrial membrane and directly interact with voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC), despite their different amino acid sequences. Male VDAC3-deficient mice are infertile as a result of reduced sperm motility due to an abnormal mitochondrial sheath in spermatozoa, and deficiency of both Kastor and Polluks also severely impaired male fertility in association with formation of a similarly abnormal mitochondrial sheath. Spermatozoa lacking either Kastor or Polluks partially recapitulate the phenotype of those lacking both. Cooperative function of Kastor and Polluks in regulation of VDAC3 may thus be essential for mitochondrial sheath formation in spermatozoa and for male fertility.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)