A RNA-seq analysis to describe the boar sperm transcriptome and its seasonal changes

Marta Gòdia, Molly Estill, Anna Castelló, Sam Balasch, Joan E. Rodríguez-Gil, Stephen A. Krawetz, Armand Sánchez, Alex Clop*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the molecular basis of cell function and ultimate phenotypes is crucial for the development of biological markers. With this aim, several RNA-seq studies have been devoted to the characterization of the transcriptome of ejaculated spermatozoa in relation to sperm quality and fertility. Semen quality follows a seasonal pattern and decays in the summer months in several animal species. The aim of this study was to deeply profile the transcriptome of the boar sperm and to evaluate its seasonal changes. We sequenced the total and the short fractions of the sperm RNA from 10 Pietrain boars, 5 collected in summer and 5 five sampled in winter, and identified a complex and rich transcriptome with 4,436 coding genes of moderate to high abundance. Transcript fragmentation was high but less obvious in genes related to spermatogenesis, chromatin compaction and fertility. Short non-coding RNAs mostly included piwi-interacting RNAs, transfer RNAs and microRNAs. We also compared the transcriptome of the summer and the winter ejaculates and identified 34 coding genes and 7 microRNAs with a significantly distinct distribution. These genes were mostly related to oxidative stress, DNA damage and autophagy. This is the deepest characterization of the boar sperm transcriptome and the first study linking the transcriptome and the seasonal variability of semen quality in animals. The annotation described here can be used as a reference for the identification of markers of sperm quality in pigs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number299
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Issue numberMAR
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Differential gene expression
  • RNA-seq
  • Sperm
  • Sperm RNA element
  • Sperm seasonality
  • Transcript integrity


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