The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Ana María Salicioni

Assistant Professor

Research efforts in my laboratory are directed towards a better understanding of the molecular basis of male fertility, in search of new venues for therapeutic intervention of male infertility, as well as towards identification of molecular targets that will lead to the development of non-hormonal male contraceptives. We have focused our studies on the characterization and analysis of the role of protein kinases and phosphatases in signaling events conducive to sperm capacitation, and on the development of research tools for biochemical analysis of those proteins. In particular, we are interested in identifying the molecule(s) involved in these events in male germ cells, among which we count the novel family of testis-specific serine protein kinases (TSSKs).

Current Research
At present, our main research goal is to capitalize on the unique properties of the testis-specific serine kinases (TSSKs) as potential targets for specific inhibition of spermiogenesis that could render the sperm unable to fertilize the egg. TSSKs are a recently described family of male germ-specific enzymatic molecules, and we are focused on finding specific inhibitors of these enzymes. We predict that TSSK inhibitors will reversibly block reproduction and therefore constitute ideal candidates for a non-hormonal male contraceptive agent. We have recently demonstrated that four members of the TSSK family are present in mature mammalian sperm, and have also reported valuable biochemical features on this family of kinases (Li et al., MHR 2011; Jha et al., JBC 2013) that will serve as basis in the search for TSSK1 small-molecule inhibitors and for analysis of TSSKs by crystallography.

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Academic Background

  • PhD University of San Luis, Argentina, 1993
  • Postdoctoral Training: St George’s Hospital Medical School, London, UK; Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Battistone MA, Da Ros VG, Salicioni AM, Navarrete FA, Krapf D, Visconti PE, Cuasnicú PS. 2013. Functional human sperm capacitation requires both bicarbonate-dependent PKA activation and down-regulation of Ser/Thr phosphatases by Src family kinases.. Mol Hum Reprod. 19(9): 570-580.
Jha KN, Coleman AR, Wong L, Salicioni AM, Howcroft E, Johnson GR. 2013. Heat shock protein 90 functions to stabilize and activate the testis-specific serine/threonine kinases, a family of kinases essential for male fertility.. J Biol Chem. 288(23):16308-20.
Salicioni AM, Romano FB, Visconti PE. 2012. Testis-Specific Kinases in male Fertility and as Targets for Contraception. American Pharmaceutical Review. 15(5).
Porambo JR, Salicioni AM, Visconti PE, Platt MD. 2012. Sperm phosphoproteomics: historical perspectives and current methodologies. Expert Rev Proteomics. 9(5):533-48.
Li Y, Sosnik J, Brassard L, Reese M, Spiridonov NA, Bates TC, Johnson GR, Anguita J, Visconti PE, Salicioni AM. 2011. Expression and localization of five members of the testis-specific serine kinase (Tssk) family in mouse and human sperm and testis. Mol Hum Reprod. 17(1):42-56.
Contact Info

Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences
427S Integrated Science Building
661 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003

(413) 577-3315