Author(s): Suarez SS
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Sperm hyperactivation is critical to fertilization, because it is required for penetration of the zona pellucida. Hyperactivation may also facilitate release of sperm from the oviductal storage reservoir and may propel sperm through mucus in the oviductal lumen and the matrix of the cumulus oophorus. Hyperactivation is characterized by high amplitude, asymmetrical flagellar bending. METHODS: This is a review of the original literature on the mechanisms that regulate hyperactivation, including physiological factors and signaling pathways. RESULTS: Computer-assisted semen analysis systems can be used to identify hyperactivated sperm by setting minimum thresholds for curvilinear velocity (VSL) and lateral head movement and a maximum threshold for path linearity. Hyperactivation is triggered by a rise in flagellar Ca(2+) resulting from influx primarily through plasma membrane CatSper channels and possibly also by release of Ca(2+) from a store in the redundant nuclear envelope. It requires increased pH and ATP production. The physiological signals that trigger the rise in Ca(2+) remain elusive, but there is evidence that the increased Ca(2+) acts through a calmodulin/calmodulin kinase pathway. Hyperactivation is considered part of the capacitation process; however, the regulatory pathway that triggers hyperactivation can operate independently from that which prepares sperm to undergo the acrosome reaction. Hyperactivation may be modulated by chemotactic signals to turn sperm toward the oocyte. CONCLUSIONS: Little is known about exactly what triggers hyperactivation in human sperm. This information could enable clinicians to develop reliable fertility assays to assess normal hyperactivation in human sperm samples.
This article was published in Hum Reprod Update
and referenced in Journal of Microbial & Biochemical Technology