The functions of CAP superfamily proteins in mammalian fertility and disease

Avinash S. Gaikwad, Jinghua Hu, David G. Chapple, Moira K. O'Bryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Members of the cysteine-rich secretory proteins (CRISPS), antigen 5 (Ag5) and pathogenesis-related 1 (Pr-1) (CAP) superfamily of proteins are found across the bacterial, fungal, plant and animal kingdoms. Although many CAP superfamily proteins remain poorly characterized, over the past decade evidence has accumulated, which provides insights into the functional roles of these proteins in various processes, including fertilization, immune defence and subversion, pathogen virulence, venom toxicology and cancer biology. OBJECTIVE AND RATIONALE: The aim of this article is to summarize the current state of knowledge on CAP superfamily proteins in mammalian fertility, organismal homeostasis and disease pathogenesis. SEARCH METHODS: The scientific literature search was undertaken via PubMed database on all articles published prior to November 2019. Search terms were based on following keywords: 'CAP superfamily', 'CRISP', 'Cysteine-rich secretory proteins', 'Antigen 5', 'Pathogenesis-related 1', 'male fertility', 'CAP and CTL domain containing', 'CRISPLD1', 'CRISPLD2', 'bacterial SCP', 'ion channel regulator', 'CatSper', 'PI15', 'PI16', 'CLEC', 'PRY proteins', 'ASP proteins', 'spermatogenesis', 'epididymal maturation', 'capacitation' and 'snake CRISP'. In addition to that, reference lists of primary and review article were reviewed for additional relevant publications. OUTCOMES: In this review, we discuss the breadth of knowledge on CAP superfamily proteins with regards to their protein structure, biological functions and emerging significance in reproduction, health and disease. We discuss the evolution of CAP superfamily proteins from their otherwise unembellished prokaryotic predecessors into the multi-domain and neofunctionalized members found in eukaryotic organisms today. At least in part because of the rapid evolution of these proteins, many inconsistencies in nomenclature exist within the literature. As such, and in part through the use of a maximum likelihood phylogenetic analysis of the vertebrate CRISP subfamily, we have attempted to clarify this confusion, thus allowing for a comparison of orthologous protein function between species. This framework also allows the prediction of functional relevance between species based on sequence and structural conservation. WIDER IMPLICATIONS: This review generates a picture of critical roles for CAP proteins in ion channel regulation, sterol and lipid binding and protease inhibition, and as ligands involved in the induction of multiple cellular processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-723
Number of pages35
JournalHuman Reproduction Update
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • epididymis
  • gamete biology
  • Male fertility
  • male infertility
  • male reproductive tract
  • pathological disorder
  • reproduction
  • sperm
  • sperm function
  • sperm maturation

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