[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Proprotein convertase 4 (PCSK4) is a member of a family of proprotein convertases that convert inactive precursor proteins into their mature and active forms. PCSK4 is expressed by testicular germ cells and localizes to the sperm acrosome, suggesting roles in fertilization. Mice lacking PCSK4 exhibit a profound fertility defect; yet, to date, few substrates for PCSK4 are known. In this study, two-dimensional differential in-gel electrophoresis analysis was carried out in order to identify proteins that are altered in spermatozoa from PCSK4 null mice. Herein, we report that the sperm fertilization molecule acrosin-binding protein (ACRBP)/sp32, which normally undergoes processing from a 58.5 kDa precursor to a 27.5 kDa mature form, is not proteolytically processed in PCSK4 null mice and thus may be a substrate for PCSK4. However, analysis of the ACRBP sequence did not show a strong consensus site for convertase cleavage, suggesting that ACRBP processing may require the activity of a yet unknown enzyme that itself may be a PCSK4 substrate. Further analysis of spermatozoa from the PCSK4 null mice showed that proacrosin did not undergo autoactivation, supporting a role for the mature form of ACRBP in the regulation of proacrosin conversion into different acrosin isoforms. Finally, examination of ACRBP localization revealed a previously undetected morphological defect in the head/acrosomes of spermatozoa from PCSK4 null mice. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the fertility defect in the PCSK4 null mice may in part be due to altered ACRBP protein processing as well as abnormalities in the sperm head/acrosome.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2012 · Molecular Human Reproduction
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sperm-zona adhesion is an essential event in mammalian fertilization, failure of which causes sterility. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in this process are still poorly understood. It has been suggested by few laboratories studying gamete interaction that acrosomal molecules are implicated in sperm-zona pellucida adhesion prior to the acrosome reaction (AR). Zonadhesin, a sperm-specific protein located in the acrosome is critically involved in zona binding. Here we describe the cellular and molecular interaction of zonadhesin during fertilization and also discuss its role in species-specific gamete interaction--an intriguing question in biology. We propose a model in which sperm could transiently expose acrosomal molecules that adhere to the zona independently of the AR in a 'kiss and run' mechanism. This could be a valuable framework for further investigations and a detailed understanding of the molecular events during gamete adhesion is likely to provide new approaches for the design of more effective male contraceptives and better diagnostic methods for sperm dysfunction.
Full-text · Article · May 2011 · Molecular Human Reproduction
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Artificial insemination has arguably been the most important practice contributing to the advancement of animal production. The numerous advantages of artificial insemination are augmented when the semen is cryopreserved and conserved for long periods. Unfortunately, the utility of cryopreserved semen is limited because for most mammals, even cattle, a considerable proportion of sperm loose their fertility during freezing-thawing. In many species, this loss of fertility is substantial, rendering cryopreserved semen impractical for routine use. Our goals are to characterize the nature of the sublethal sperm damage caused by cryopreservation, and to develop a method to improve the functional fertility of thawed semen. This review describes our theory that sperm are prematurely activated by cryopreservation ("cryo- capacitation") and discusses strategies for preventing this damage.
No preview · Article · Sep 2003 · The Canadian veterinary journal. La revue veterinaire canadienne
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: After ejaculation, mammalian spermatozoa must undergo capacitation to fertilize. Capacitation of bovine spermatozoa occurs in vitro in medium supplemented with heparin. Semen cryopreservation is an important tool for assisted reproduction, although the fertility of frozen-thawed spermatozoa is reduced, possibly due to precocious capacitation-like changes that are known to occur. Our purpose was to clarify the mechanisms involved in bull sperm cryocapacitation induced by cryopreservation. Our general hypothesis is that the signaling pathways that lead to capacitation are triggered by the cryopreservation procedure. Ejaculated bovine semen was divided into two aliquots and diluted in extender; one was then kept fresh, whereas the second was cryopreserved. Western blots of extracted sperm proteins with anti-phosphotyrosine antibody showed that capacitation, induced by either heparin in fresh sperm or cryopreservation (cryocapacitation), is associated with a differential profile of phosphotyrosine-containing proteins. Immunolocalization of phosphotyrosine-containing proteins in the fresh and cryopreserved spermatozoa showed that, after thawing, cryocapacitated sperm displayed labeling over the acrosomal region, whereas for fresh sperm, this labeling appeared after 5-h incubation with heparin. The chlortetracycline assay and the ability of the sperm to undergo the lysophosphatidylcholine-induced acrosome reaction were used to confirm that a subpopulation of cryopreserved sperm is capacitated at thawing, irrespective of heparin inclusion. Since glucose is known to inhibit heparin-induced capacitation, the semen extender was modified to include glucose as a means of inhibiting cryocapacitation; however, cryocapacitation was not prevented according to the chlortetracycline assay and profile of phosphotyrosine-containing sperm proteins.
Preview · Article · Aug 2003 · Biology of Reproduction
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cystatin-related epididymal spermatogenic (CRES) protein is related to the family 2 cystatins of the cystatin superfamily of cysteine protease inhibitors. However, CRES lacks sequences important for cysteine protease inhibitory activity and is specifically expressed in reproductive and neuroendocrine tissues. Thus, CRES is distinct from cystatins and may perform unique tissue-specific functions. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether CRES functions as a protease inhibitor in in vitro assays. In contrast to mouse recombinant cystatin C, recombinant CRES did not inhibit the cysteine proteases papain and cathepsin B, suggesting that it probably does not function as a typical cystatin. CRES, however, inhibited the serine protease prohormone convertase 2 (PC2), a protease involved in prohormone processing in the neuroendocrine system, whereas cystatin C showed no inhibition. CRES did not inhibit subtilisin, trypsin, or the convertase family members, PC1 and furin, indicating that it selectively inhibits PC2. Kinetic analysis showed that CRES is a competitive inhibitor of PC2 with a K(i) of 25 nM. The removal of N-terminal sequences from CRES decreased its affinity for PC2, suggesting that the N terminus may be important for CRES to function as an inhibitor. These studies suggest that CRES is a cross-class inhibitor that may regulate proprotein processing within the reproductive and neuroendocrine systems.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phosphodiesterases (PDEs) are enzymes that degrade cyclic nucleotides. The calcium-calmodulin dependent PDE type 1 (PDE 1) and the cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-specific PDE type 4 (PDE 4) have been implicated in sperm function. We tested the hypothesis that specific PDEs regulate capacitation of bovine sperm in a manner independent of those that mediate motility. Our objectives were to determine the effects of inhibiting PDE 1 and PDE 4 on capacitation and motility, and to compare these effects to those of heparin, which is necessary for capacitation of bull sperm in vitro. Fresh sperm were supplemented either with 15 microg/mL heparin (positive control) or the PDE inhibitors vinpocetine (specific for PDE 1) and rolipram (specific for PDE 4), and then incubated for 5 hours. At 0, 3, and 5 hours, samples were assayed for capacitation and motility parameters according to the chlortetracycline (CTC) fluorescent pattern B and computer-assisted sperm analysis, respectively. A higher percentage of CTC pattern B sperm relative to heparin controls was observed at 0 and 3 hours when sperm were incubated with vinpocetine. After 5 hours, the percentage of heparin- and vinpocetine-treated sperm showing pattern B did not differ (P >.05). Rolipram did not affect CTC patterns (P >.05; n = 4). Vinpocetine and heparin both reduced the percentage of progressively motile sperm after 3 and 5 hours, but vinpocetine reduced it more than heparin (P <.05; n = 4). Rolipram transiently increased linearity versus sperm with heparin (P <.05; n = 4). To further test the hypothesis that PDE 1 inhibition permits capacitation, we conducted in vitro fertilization. Vinpocetine did not support the ability of sperm to penetrate homologous oocytes (n = 5). Although cAMP regulation by PDE 1 may occur early during capacitation, downstream events appear to prevent full capacitation from occurring prematurely.
No preview · Article · Jan 2003 · Journal of Andrology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Improvement of bovine semen cryopreservation requires a better understanding of the properties of the currently used extenders. At present, about half of the spermatozoa die or become immotile following cryopreservation. The implication of an oxidative stress during or following the process of cryopreservation has been suspected to alter sperm functions. However, insufficient information is available on the effect of oxidative stress on sperm functions in their surrounding environment, the extender, such as the one based on egg yolk, Tris and glycerol. In this study, we investigated the effects of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and superoxide anion (O2*-) on bovine sperm motility in a widely used egg yolk Tris glycerol (EYTG) extender in comparison to a reference medium, the Tyrode's albumen lactate pyruvate (TALP). Bovine sperm were incubated for 6 h with or without concentrations of H2O2 ranging from 12.5 microM to 1.25 mM and with the hypoxanthine/xanthine oxidase system (X/XOD) that generates O2*-. Sperm motility was established by computer assisted semen analysis (CASA) in four similar experiments using the same frozen pool of semen. We have found that sperm motility was reduced significantly by H2O2 concentrations 20-fold lower in EYTG than in TALP medium. The differential resistance of the two media was explained by pyruvate present in TALP that acts as an antioxidant and metals ions, chelated by ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DETAPAC), found in egg yolk that might react with H2O2. Addition of only 5 U/ml of bovine liver catalase or oviductal fluid catalase (OFC) were sufficient to overcome the loss of sperm motility caused by 100 microM H2O2 in both EYTG and TALP. However, OFC was the most effective of the two catalases in EYTG. In addition to maintain sperm motility, catalase (5 U/ml) and pyruvate (5 mM) increased the intracellular sperm ATP level in comparison to sperm incubated alone for 6 h at 38.5 degrees C in EYTG. Moreover, EDTA, pyruvate and catalase prevented sperm ATP loss in presence of 100 mM of H2O2 in EYTG. These results indicated that EYTG has a very limited capacity to neutralize H2O2, and the addition of low amounts of catalase and millimolar concentrations of pyruvate greatly improved the antioxidant properties of a commonly used extender.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It would be desirable to use semen parameters to predict the in vivo fertilizing capacity of a particular ejaculate. In animal production, an ejaculate is divided into multiple doses for artificial insemination (AI); therefore, it would be economically beneficial to know the functional quality (i.e., fertility) of the semen before it is inseminated. To identify a predictive assay of the fertilizing capacity of a porcine ejaculate, we performed 4 rapid assays of sperm quality (motility, viability, physiological status as assessed by chlortetracycline fluorescence, and ATP content) on samples from 9 ejaculates, before and after a thermal stress test (42.5 degrees C, 45 min). These parameters were subsequently correlated with in vivo fertility resulting from AI with 2 sperm doses, 3 x 10(9) or 0.3 x 10(9) motile cells in 70 mL (optimal or suboptimal sperm number per insemination, respectively) from these same ejaculates. No parameter was correlated to the fertility rates obtained after inseminating with the optimal semen doses, either before or after the thermal stress test (P > 0.05). However, with respect to the animals inseminated with the suboptimal semen dose, sperm motility (the percentage of motile spermatozoa as assessed visually by microscopy) prior to thermal stress was well-correlated to fertility rates (r = 0.783, P = 0.01). The percentage of spermatozoa displaying the chlortetracycline Pattern AR (acrosome reaction) was also statistically related to fertility (r = 0.05, P = 0.04), but the biological importance of this relationship is questionable given the small variation among ejaculates (range: 0 to 2%). No other sperm parameter was significantly related to fertility rates in this group (P > 0.05). These data, therefore, indicate that sperm motility is a useful indicator of sperm fertilizing capacity in vivo. Moreover, to identify a predictor of semen fertility it is critical that the number of spermatozoa used during insemination is sufficiently low to detect differences in sperm fertilizing efficiency.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Poor motility and abnormal acrosomal morphology only partially explain the reduced fertility of cryopreserved bovine spermatozoa. To test the hypothesis that cryopreservation procedures (dilution, cooling, freeze-thaw) induce capacitation in bovine spermatozoa, two experiments were conducted using semen diluted in egg yolk-Tris-glycerol extender (EYTG) (Tris, tris(hydroxymethyl)aminomethane). Capacitation was determined prior to and following incubation with various concentrations of heparin using the chlortetracycline (CTC) fluorescence assay or after preexposure to EYTG using in vitro fertilization (IVF) of bovine cumulus-oocyte complexes (COC) in the absence of heparin. Fresh ejaculates were divided into four treatments and the first was diluted with noncapacitating medium, NCM (+0.3% polyvinyl alcohol (PVA); control), then maintained at 23 degrees C for 4 hours. The remaining semen was diluted with EYTG; the second treatment was held at 4 degrees C (EYTG-4), and the third treatment was held at 23 degrees C (EYTG-23) for 4 hours. The fourth treatment was cooled to 4 degrees C over 4 hours, as per the normal industry protocol, cryopreserved, and thawed (frozen-thawed). After the 4-hour maintenance periods or thawing, all treatments were resuspended either in capacitating medium (CM; +0.6% BSA) for the CTC experiment (n = 3) or in NCM for the IVF experiment (n = 9-11). Prior to incubation in conditions that support capacitation, the percentage of cells exhibiting pattern B (capacitated according to the CTC assay) was similar for all treatments with fresh-extended spermatozoa. Immediately following the addition of heparin (0, 2, or 10 micrograms/ml), three times more frozen-thawed than fresh-extended spermatozoa exhibited pattern B (P < 0.05). After 3 or 6 hours of incubation, however, the percentages of cells displaying pattern B did not differ among treatments. In the absence of heparin, spermatozoa preexposed to EYTG-4 fertilized 2.6x more COC than did control cells (P < 0.001) and 9.2x more than spermatozoa preexposed to EYTG but held at 23 degrees C (EYTG-23; P < 0.0001). No differences were observed among fertilization rates for fresh-extended (EYTG-4) and frozen-thawed spermatozoa. This study provides evidence that premature capacitation occurs in partially (extended and cooled) and fully cryopreserved bovine spermatozoa.
Preview · Article · Jul 1997 · Journal of Andrology