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Studies of sperm from mutant mice suggesting that two neurotransmitter receptors are important to the zona pellucida-initiated acrosome reaction.

Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy, University of California at Davis, School of Medicine, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA, USA.
Molecular Reproduction and Development (Impact Factor: 2.68). 11/2005; 72(2):250-8. DOI: 10.1002/mrd.20336
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Two sperm neurotransmitter receptor/channels, the glycine receptor (GlyR) and a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor containing an alpha7 subunit (alpha7nAChR) were previously shown to be important to the mouse acrosome reaction (AR) initiated by solubilized egg zona pellucida (ZP). Here, we investigated whether sperm from homozygous mutant mice with a single amino acid mutation in the alpha subunit of their GlyR and sperm from homozygous mutant mice with an engineered disruption of the gene for the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha7 subunit could undergo the AR on ZP-intact eggs. Wild-type and mutant sperm were treated with 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate (QNB), known to be an inhibitor of the ZP-initiated AR (but shown in the present work not to inhibit the acetylcholine-initiated AR). The ZP-initiated AR on ZP-intact eggs should occur only in sperm not treated with QNB. The absence of such an increase in the untreated mutant sperm would demonstrate that such sperm were unable to respond to the intact ZP. The results demonstrated for the first time that GlyR mutant sperm do not undergo the AR on ZP-intact mouse eggs, and that their ability to fertilize is inhibited by 63% in vitro. Moreover, we found that GlyR mutant sperm exhibited normal capacitation and confirmed that they not undergo the AR initiated by solubilized mouse ZP. Our studies demonstrated for the first time that sperm from mutant alpha7nAChR mice exhibit normal capacitation, do not undergo the AR in response to acetylcholine, solubilized ZP or on ZP-intact eggs, and display a 25% reduction in fertilization in vitro. This is the first genetic evidence for the importance of the alpha7nAChR in the ZP-initiated AR. While defects in either the GlyR or the alpha7nAChR completely inhibit the ZP-initiated AR, fertilization by these mutant sperm can still occur in vitro, probably due to sperm that complete spontaneous AR on the ZP.

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