Normann Goodwin

Babraham Institute, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (6)88.81 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Sperm guidance is controlled by chemical and physical cues. In many species, Ca(2+) bursts in the flagellum govern navigation to the egg. In Arbacia punctulata, a model system of sperm chemotaxis, a cGMP signaling pathway controls these Ca(2+) bursts. The underlying Ca(2+) channel and its mechanisms of activation are unknown. Here, we identify CatSper Ca(2+) channels in the flagellum of A. punctulata sperm. We show that CatSper mediates the chemoattractant-evoked Ca(2+) influx and controls chemotactic steering; a concomitant alkalization serves as a highly cooperative mechanism that enables CatSper to transduce periodic voltage changes into Ca(2+) bursts. Our results reveal intriguing phylogenetic commonalities but also variations between marine invertebrates and mammals regarding the function and control of CatSper. The variations probably reflect functional and mechanistic adaptations that evolved during the transition from external to internal fertilization. © 2014 The Authors.
    The EMBO Journal 12/2014; 34(3). DOI:10.15252/embj.201489376 · 10.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Guanylyl cyclases (GCs), which synthesize the messenger cyclic guanosine 3',5'-monophosphate, control several sensory functions, such as phototransduction, chemosensation, and thermosensation, in many species from worms to mammals. The GC chemoreceptor in sea urchin sperm can decode chemoattractant concentrations with single-molecule sensitivity. The molecular and cellular underpinnings of such ultrasensitivity are not known for any eukaryotic chemoreceptor. In this paper, we show that an exquisitely high density of 3 × 10(5) GC chemoreceptors and subnanomolar ligand affinity provide a high ligand-capture efficacy and render sperm perfect absorbers. The GC activity is terminated within 150 ms by dephosphorylation steps of the receptor, which provides a means for precise control of the GC lifetime and which reduces "molecule noise." Compared with other ultrasensitive sensory systems, the 10-fold signal amplification by the GC receptor is surprisingly low. The hallmarks of this signaling mechanism provide a blueprint for chemical sensing in small compartments, such as olfactory cilia, insect antennae, or even synaptic boutons.
    The Journal of Cell Biology 08/2014; 206(4):541-57. DOI:10.1083/jcb.201402027 · 9.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The sperm-specific CatSper channel controls the intracellular Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+)](i)) and, thereby, the swimming behaviour of sperm. In humans, CatSper is directly activated by progesterone and prostaglandins-female factors that stimulate Ca(2+) influx. Other factors including neurotransmitters, chemokines, and odorants also affect sperm function by changing [Ca(2+)](i). Several ligands, notably odorants, have been proposed to control Ca(2+) entry and motility via G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and cAMP-signalling pathways. Here, we show that odorants directly activate CatSper without involving GPCRs and cAMP. Moreover, membrane-permeable analogues of cyclic nucleotides that have been frequently used to study cAMP-mediated Ca(2+) signalling also activate CatSper directly via an extracellular site. Thus, CatSper or associated protein(s) harbour promiscuous binding sites that can host various ligands. These results contest current concepts of Ca(2+) signalling by GPCR and cAMP in mammalian sperm: ligands thought to activate metabotropic pathways, in fact, act via a common ionotropic mechanism. We propose that the CatSper channel complex serves as a polymodal sensor for multiple chemical cues that assist sperm during their voyage across the female genital tract.
    The EMBO Journal 02/2012; 31(7):1654-65. DOI:10.1038/emboj.2012.30 · 10.75 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2012; 102(3):669-. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2011.11.3644 · 3.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the oviduct, cumulus cells that surround the oocyte release progesterone. In human sperm, progesterone stimulates a Ca(2+) increase by a non-genomic mechanism. The Ca(2+) signal has been proposed to control chemotaxis, hyperactivation and acrosomal exocytosis of sperm. However, the underlying signalling mechanism has remained mysterious. Here we show that progesterone activates the sperm-specific, pH-sensitive CatSper Ca(2+) channel. We found that both progesterone and alkaline pH stimulate a rapid Ca(2+) influx with almost no latency, incompatible with a signalling pathway involving metabotropic receptors and second messengers. The Ca(2+) signals evoked by alkaline pH and progesterone are inhibited by the Ca(v) channel blockers NNC 55-0396 and mibefradil. Patch-clamp recordings from sperm reveal an alkaline-activated current carried by mono- and divalent ions that exhibits all the hallmarks of sperm-specific CatSper Ca(2+) channels. Progesterone substantially enhances the CatSper current. The alkaline- and progesterone-activated CatSper current is inhibited by both drugs. Our results resolve a long-standing controversy over the non-genomic progesterone signalling. In human sperm, either the CatSper channel itself or an associated protein serves as the non-genomic progesterone receptor. The identification of CatSper channel blockers will greatly facilitate the study of Ca(2+) signalling in sperm and help to define further the physiological role of progesterone and CatSper.
    Nature 03/2011; 471(7338):382-6. DOI:10.1038/nature09769 · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ketalization of the biomolecule progesterone with (6-bromo-7-hydroxycoumarin-4-yl)ethane-1,2-diol gives the photolabile progesterone derivatives 3 and 4. These compounds display dramatically reduced bioactivity and release progesterone upon irradiation with UV/vis or IR light. In particular, 4 can be used to perform concentration-jump experiments with high temporal and spatial resolution that allows one to study elegantly the mechanisms of rapid nongenomic cellular events evoked by progesterone. The usefulness of 4 was demonstrated by measurement of changes in swimming behavior of single human sperm caused by progesterone-induced Ca(2+) influx in the sperm flagellum.
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 06/2009; 131(11). DOI:10.1021/ja902938k · 11.44 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

201 Citations
88.81 Total Impact Points


  • 2014
    • Babraham Institute
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
    • Marine Biological Laboratory
      FMH, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2011
    • Center of Advanced European Studies and Research
      Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany