Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor component protein (RCP) is a novel protein that modulates CGRP responsiveness in a variety of cell types. Using probes based on the isolation of CGRP-RCP complementary DNA (cDNA) from a guinea pig organ of Corti cDNA library, we cloned human (h) and mouse (m) CGRP-RCP cDNAs, both of which encode 148-residue proteins that at the amino acid levels are approximately 88% identical to each other and to the 146-residue guinea pig CGRP-RCP. Northern blot analysis confirmed the presence of CGRP-RCP messenger RNA in all of the human and mouse tissues tested. In these human tissues, hCGRP-RCP messenger RNA (major band at ~3.1 kb, minor band at ~7.5 kb) was most prevalent in the testis. In the mouse, the highest abundance of CGRP-RCP RNA was clearly in the testis (major band at ~1.6 kb, minor band at ~1.1 kb). Based on this tissue distribution of RNA, we sought to identify the cells in the murine testis that contained CGRP-RCP protein. Numerous antisera generated against hCGRP-RCP, including one to recombinant hCGRP-RCP, exhibited strong immunoreactivity localized to the head region of spermatozoa. No CGRP-RCP immunoreactivity was observed in other cells at less mature stages of sperm maturation, in Sertoli or interstitial (Leydig) cells, or in human spermatozoa. Murine epididymal (mature) spermatozoa exhibited CGRP-RCP immunoreactivity identical to that of testicular spermatozoa. Spermatozoa that underwent an experimentally induced acrosome reaction (acrosomal discharge) lost their CGRP-RCP immunoreactivity. Therefore, it appears that CGRP-RCP is associated with the acrosome, suggesting that it may play an important role in reproduction.
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