Protein synthesis in sperm: Dialog between mitochondria and cytoplasm

Yael Gur, Haim Breitbart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Ejaculated sperm are capable of using mRNAs transcripts for protein translation during the final maturation steps before fertilization. In a capacitation-dependent process, nuclear-encoded mRNAs are translated by mitochondrial-type ribosomes while the cytoplasmic translation machinery is not involved. Our findings suggest that new proteins are synthesized to replace degraded proteins while swimming and waiting in the female reproductive tract before fertilization, or produced due to the specific needs of the capacitating spermatozoa. In addition, a growing number of articles have reported evidence for the correlation of nuclear-encoded mRNA and protein synthesis in somatic mitochondria. It is known that all of the proteins necessary for the replication, transcription and translation of the genes encoded in mtDNA are now encoded in the nuclear genome. This genetic investment is far out of proportion to the number of proteins involved, as there have been multiple movements and duplications of genes. However, the evolutionary retention (or secondary uptake) of the mitochondrial machinery for translation of nuclear-encoded mRNAs may shed light on this paradox.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 30 Jan 2008


  • Mitochondria
  • Protein synthesis
  • Sperm


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