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Acp36DE is required for uterine conformational changes in mated Drosophila females

Avila, Frank W., Wolfner, Mariana F.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2009 v.106 no.37 pp. 15796-15800
Drosophila melanogaster, females, copulation, uterus, insect anatomy, insect proteins, seminal plasma
In a multitude of animals with internal fertilization, including insects and mammals, sperm are stored within a female's reproductive tract after mating. Defects in the process of sperm storage drastically reduce reproductive success. In Drosophila males, "Acp" seminal proteins alter female postmating physiology and behavior, and are necessary for several aspects of sperm storage. For example, Acps cause a series of conformational changes in the mated female's reproductive tract that occur during and immediately after mating. These conformational changes have been hypothesized to aid both in the movement of sperm within the female and in the subsequent storage of those sperm. We used RNAi to systematically knock down several Acps involved in sperm storage to determine whether they played a role in the mating-induced uterine conformational changes. Mates of males lacking the glycoprotein Acp36DE, which is needed for the accumulation of sperm in the storage organs, fail to complete the full sequence of the conformational changes. Our results show that uterine conformational changes are important for proper accumulation of sperm in storage and identify a seminal protein that mediates these changes. Four Acps included in this study, previously shown to affect sperm release from storage (CG9997, CG1656, CG1652, and CG17575), are not necessary for uterine conformational changes to occur. Rather, consistent with their role in later steps of sperm storage, we show here that their presence can affect the outcome of sperm competition situations.