Author(s): MuozGaray C, De la VegaBeltrn JL, Delgado R, Labarca P, Felix R,
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Abstract To fertilize, mammalian sperm must complete a maturational process called capacitation. It is thought that the membrane potential of sperm hyperpolarizes during capacitation, possibly due to the opening of K(+) channels, but electrophysiological evidence is lacking. In this report, using patch-clamp recordings obtained from isolated mouse spermatogenic cells we document the presence of a novel K(+)-selective inwardly rectifying current. Macroscopic current activated at membrane potentials below the equilibrium potential for K(+) and its magnitude was dependent on the external K(+) concentration. The channels selected K(+) over other monovalent cations. Current was virtually absent when external K(+) was replaced with Na(+) or N-methyl-D-glucamine. Addition of Cs(+) or Ba(2+) (IC(50) of approximately 15 microM) to the external solution effectively blocked K(+) current. Dialyzing the cells with a Mg(2+)-free solution did not affect channel activity. Cytosolic acidification reversibly inhibited the current. We verified that the resting membrane potential of mouse sperm changed from -52 +/- 6 to -66 +/- 9 mV during capacitation in vitro. Notably, application of 0.3-1 mM Ba(2+) during capacitation prevented this hyperpolarization and decreased the subsequent exocytotic response to zona pellucida. A mechanism is proposed whereby opening of inwardly rectifying K(+) channels may produce hyperpolarization under physiological conditions and contribute to the cellular changes that give rise to the capacitated state in mature sperm. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.
This article was published in Dev Biol
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology