Can relative spermatozoal galactosyltransferase activity be predictive of dairy bull fertility?

J. L. Larson, D. J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The best and poorest bovine semen samples used commercially for artificial insemination in dairy cattle typically differ in pregnancy rates by 20 to 25% but are within a range that pregnancy rates cannot be predicted consistently by commonly used laboratory assays. Sperm motility and morphology are the characteristics most often evaluated. Laboratory assays that measure other functional traits of sperm may be useful as supplemental assays to increase the reliability of predicting fertility. One such functional trait is the ability of sperm to bind to the zona pellucida, a process mediated by complementary receptors on each gamete. On mouse sperm, β1,4-galactosyltransferase acts as a receptor for the zona pellucida. β1,4-Galactosyltransferase is expressed on sperm from many mammals, including bovine sperm, and is a candidate for a zona pellucida receptor. The ability of sperm to bind to the zona pellucida may be related to the amount of β1,4-galactosyltransferase present on sperm. The aim of this work was to determine if bull sperm β1,4-galactosyltransferase activity was related to fertility. β1,4-Galactosyltransferase enzyme assays were performed on sperm from 24 bulls whose fertility was estimated by nonreturn rate and on sperm from a second group of seven bulls whose fertility was ranked by in vivo competitive fertilization. β1,4-Galactosyltransferase activity varied between individual bulls but was not correlated to fertility as estimated by nonreturn rate or by competitive fertilization. These results demonstrate that β1,4-galactosyltransferase activity on sperm varies between animals, but that β1,4-galactosyltransferase activity alone is not an accurate indicator of fertility in dairy bulls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2473-2479
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2000


  • Artificial insemination
  • Bovine
  • Cell adhesion
  • Fertility
  • Sperm
  • Zona pellucida
  • β1,4-galactosyltransferase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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