Author(s): Abouhaila A, Tulsiani DR
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Abstract Ejaculated spermatozoa must undergo physiological priming as they traverse the female reproductive tract before they can bind to the egg's extracellular coat, the zona pellucida (ZP), undergo the acrosome reaction, and fertilize the egg. The preparatory changes are the net result of a series of biochemical and functional modifications collectively referred to as capacitation. Accumulated evidence suggests that the event that initiates capacitation is the efflux of cholesterol from the sperm plasma membrane (PM). The efflux increases permeability and fluidity of the sperm PM and causes influx of Ca(2+) ions that starts a signaling cascade and result in sperm capacitation. The binding of capacitated spermatozoa to ZP further elevates intrasperm Ca(2+) and starts a new signaling cascade which open up Ca(2+) channels in the sperm PM and outer acrosomal membrane (OAM) and cause the sperm to undergo acrosomal exocytosis. The hydrolytic action of the acrosomal enzymes released at the site of sperm-egg (zona) binding, along with the hyperactivated beat pattern of the bound spermatozoon, are important factors in directing the sperm to penetrate the ZP and fertilize the egg. The role of Ca(2+)-signaling in sperm capacitation and induction of the acrosome reaction (acrosomal exocytosis) has been of wide interest. However, the precise mechanism(s) of its action remains elusive. In this article, we intend to highlight data from this and other laboratories on Ca(2+) signaling cascades that regulate sperm functions.
This article was published in Arch Biochem Biophys
and referenced in Gynecology & Obstetrics