Disruption of the principal, progesterone-activated sperm Ca2+ channel in a CatSper2-deficient infertile patient.
ABSTRACT: The female steroid hormone progesterone regulates ovulation and supports pregnancy, but also controls human sperm function within the female reproductive tract. Progesterone causes elevation of sperm intracellular Ca(2+) leading to sperm hyperactivation, acrosome reaction, and perhaps chemotaxis toward the egg. Although it has been suggested that progesterone-dependent Ca(2+) influx into human spermatozoa is primarily mediated by cationic channel of sperm (CatSper), the principal flagellar Ca(2+) channel of sperm, conclusive loss-of-function genetic evidence for activation of CatSper by progesterone has yet to be provided. Moreover, it is not clear whether the responsiveness of CatSper to progesterone is an innate property of human spermatozoa or is acquired as the result of exposure to the seminal plasma. Here, by recording ionic currents from spermatozoa of an infertile CatSper-deficient patient, we demonstrate that CatSper is indeed the principal Ca(2+) channel of human spermatozoa, and that it is strongly potentiated by progesterone. In addition, by recording CatSper currents from human epididymal and testicular spermatozoa, we show that CatSper sensitivity to progesterone arises early in sperm development and increases gradually to a peak when spermatozoa are ejaculated. These results unambiguously establish an important role of CatSper channel in human sperm nongenomic progesterone signaling and demonstrate that the molecular mechanism responsible for activation of CatSper by progesterone arises early in sperm development concurrently with the CatSper channel itself.
Project description:Sperm cells acquire hyperactivated motility as they ascend the female reproductive tract, which enables them to overcome barriers and penetrate the cumulus and zona pellucida surrounding the egg. This enhanced motility requires Ca(2+) entry via cation channel of sperm (CatSper) Ca(2+)-selective ion channels in the sperm tail. Ca(2+) entry via CatSper is enhanced by the membrane hyperpolarization mediated by Slo3, a K(+) channel also present in the sperm tail. To date, no transmitter-mediated currents have been reported in sperm and no currents have been detected in the head or midpiece of mature spermatozoa. We screened a number of neurotransmitters and biomolecules to examine their ability to induce ion channel currents in the whole spermatozoa. Surprisingly, we find that none of the previously reported neurotransmitter receptors detected by antibodies alone are functional in mouse spermatozoa. Instead, we find that mouse spermatozoa have a cation-nonselective current in the midpiece of spermatozoa that is activated by external ATP, consistent with an ATP-mediated increase in intracellular Ca(2+) as previously reported. The ATP-dependent current is not detected in mice lacking the P2X2 receptor gene (P2rx2(-/-)). Furthermore, the slowly desensitizing and strongly outwardly rectifying ATP-gated current has the biophysical and pharmacological properties that mimic heterologously expressed mouse P2X2. We conclude that the ATP-induced current on mouse spermatozoa is mediated by the P2X2 purinergic receptor/channel. Despite the loss of ATP-gated current, P2rx2(-/-) spermatozoa have normal progressive motility, hyperactivated motility, and acrosome reactions. However, fertility of P2rx2(-/-) males declines with frequent mating over days, suggesting that P2X2 receptor adds a selection advantage under these conditions.
Project description:Calcium signalling is critical for successful fertilization. In spermatozoa, capacitation, hyperactivation of motility and the acrosome reaction are all mediated by increases in intracellular Ca(2+). Cation channels of sperm proteins (CATSPERS1-4) form an alkalinization-activated Ca(2+)-selective channel required for the hyperactivated motility of spermatozoa and male fertility. Each of the CatSper1-4 genes encodes a subunit of a tetramer surrounding a Ca(2+)-selective pore, in analogy with other six-transmembrane ion channel ? subunits. In addition to the pore-forming proteins, the sperm Ca(2+) channel contains auxiliary subunits, CATSPER? and CATSPER?. Here, we identify the Tmem146 gene product as a novel subunit, CATSPER?, required for CATSPER channel function. We find that mice lacking the sperm tail-specific CATSPER? are infertile and their spermatozoa lack both Ca(2+) current and hyperactivated motility. We show that CATSPER? is an essential element of the CATSPER channel complex and propose that CATSPER? is required for proper CATSPER channel assembly and/or transport.
Project description:Mammalian spermatozoa gain competence to fertilize an oocyte as they travel through the female reproductive tract. This process is accompanied by an elevation of sperm intracellular calcium and a membrane hyperpolarization. The latter is evoked by K(+) efflux; however, the molecular identity of the potassium channel of human spermatozoa (hKSper) is unknown. Here, we characterize hKSper, reporting that it is regulated by intracellular calcium but is insensitive to intracellular alkalinization. We also show that human KSper is inhibited by charybdotoxin, iberiotoxin, and paxilline, while mouse KSper is insensitive to these compounds. Such unique properties suggest that the Slo1 ion channel is the molecular determinant for hKSper. We show that Slo1 is localized to the sperm flagellum and is inhibited by progesterone. Inhibition of hKSper by progesterone may depolarize the spermatozoon to open the calcium channel CatSper, thus raising [Ca(2+)] to produce hyperactivation and allowing sperm to fertilize an oocyte. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01009.001.
Project description:Does progesterone in human follicular fluid (hFF) activate CatSper and do other components of hFF modulate this effect and/or contribute separately to hFF-induced Ca2+ signaling?hFF potently stimulates CatSper and increases [Ca2+]i, primarily due to high concentrations of progesterone, however, other components of hFF also contribute to [Ca2+]i signaling, including modulation of CatSper channel activity and inhibition of [Ca2+]i oscillations.CatSper, the principal Ca2+ channel in spermatozoa, is progesterone-sensitive and essential for fertility. Both hFF and progesterone, which is present in hFF, influence sperm function and increase their [Ca2+]i.This basic medical research study used semen samples from >40 donors and hFF from >50 patients who were undergoing surgical oocyte retrieval for IVF/ICSI.Semen donors and patients were recruited in accordance with local ethics approval (13/ES/0091) from the East of Scotland Research Ethics Service REC1. Activities of CatSper and KSper were assessed by patch clamp electrophysiology. Sperm [Ca2+]i responses were examined in sperm populations and single cells. Computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) parameters and penetration into viscous media were used to assess functional effects.hFF and progesterone significantly potentiated CatSper currents. Under quasi-physiological conditions, hFF (up to 50%) failed to alter membrane K+ conductance or current reversal potential. hFF and progesterone (at an equivalent concentration) stimulated similar biphasic [Ca2+]i signals both in sperm populations and single cells. At a high hFF concentration (10%), the sustained (plateau) component of the [Ca2+]i signal was consistently greater than that induced by progesterone alone. In single cell recordings, 1% hFF-induced [Ca2+]i oscillations similarly to progesterone but with 10% hFF generation of [Ca2+]i oscillations was suppressed. After treatment to 'strip' lipid-derived mediators, hFF failed to significantly stimulate CatSper currents but induced small [Ca2+]i responses that were greater than those induced by the equivalent concentration of progesterone after stripping. Similar [Ca2+]i responses were observed when sperm pretreated with 3 ?M progesterone (to desensitize progesterone responses) were stimulated with hFF or stripped hFF. hFF stimulated viscous media penetration and was more effective than the equivalent does of progesterone.N/A.This was an in vitro study. Caution must be taken when extrapolating these results in vivo.This study directly demonstrates that hFF activates CatSper and establishes that the biologically important effects of hFF reflect, at least in part, action on this channel, primarily via progesterone. However, these experiments also demonstrate that other components of hFF both contribute to the [Ca2+]i signal and modulate the activation of CatSper. Simple in vitro experiments performed out of the context of the complex in vivo environment need to be interpreted with caution.Funding was provided by MRC (MR/K013343/1, MR/012492/1) (S.G.B., S.J.P., C.L.R.B.) and University of Abertay (sabbatical for S.G.B.). Additional funding was provided by TENOVUS SCOTLAND (S.M.D.S.), Chief Scientist Office/NHS Research Scotland (S.M.D.S). C.L.R.B. is EIC of MHR and Chair of the WHO ESG on Diagnosis of Male infertility. The remaining authors have no conlicts of interest.
Project description:Steroids regulate cell proliferation, tissue development, and cell signaling via two pathways: a nuclear receptor mechanism and genome-independent signaling. Sperm activation, egg maturation, and steroid-induced anesthesia are executed via the latter pathway, the key components of which remain unknown. Here, we present characterization of the human sperm progesterone receptor that is conveyed by the orphan enzyme ?/? hydrolase domain-containing protein 2 (ABHD2). We show that ABHD2 is highly expressed in spermatozoa, binds progesterone, and acts as a progesterone-dependent lipid hydrolase by depleting the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2AG) from plasma membrane. The 2AG inhibits the sperm calcium channel (CatSper), and its removal leads to calcium influx via CatSper and ensures sperm activation. This study reveals that progesterone-activated endocannabinoid depletion by ABHD2 is a general mechanism by which progesterone exerts its genome-independent action and primes sperm for fertilization.
Project description:Ca2+i signalling is pivotal to sperm function. Progesterone, the best-characterized agonist of human sperm Ca2+i signalling, stimulates a biphasic [Ca2+]i rise, comprising a transient and subsequent sustained phase. In accordance with recent reports that progesterone directly activates CatSper, the [Ca2+]i transient was detectable in the anterior flagellum (where CatSper is expressed) 1-2 s before responses in the head and neck. Pre-treatment with 5 ?M 2-APB (2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate), which enhances activity of store-operated channel proteins (Orai) by facilitating interaction with their activator [STIM (stromal interaction molecule)] 'amplified' progesterone-induced [Ca2+]i transients at the sperm neck/midpiece without modifying kinetics. The flagellar [Ca2+]i response was unchanged. 2-APB (5 ?M) also enhanced the sustained response in the midpiece, possibly reflecting mitochondrial Ca2+ accumulation downstream of the potentiated [Ca2+]i transient. Pre-treatment with 50-100 ?M 2-APB failed to potentiate the transient and suppressed sustained [Ca2+]i elevation. When applied during the [Ca2+]i plateau, 50-100 ?M 2-APB caused a transient fall in [Ca2+]i, which then recovered despite the continued presence of 2-APB. Loperamide (a chemically different store-operated channel agonist) enhanced the progesterone-induced [Ca2+]i signal and potentiated progesterone-induced hyperactivated motility. Neither 2-APB nor loperamide raised pHi (which would activate CatSper) and both compounds inhibited CatSper currents. STIM and Orai were detected and localized primarily to the neck/midpiece and acrosome where Ca2+ stores are present and the effects of 2-APB are focussed, but store-operated currents could not be detected in human sperm. We propose that 2-APB-sensitive channels amplify [Ca2+]i elevation induced by progesterone (and other CatSper agonists), amplifying, propagating and providing spatio-temporal complexity in [Ca2+]i signals of human sperm.
Project description:The four sperm-specific CatSper ion channel proteins are required for hyperactivated motility and male fertility, and for Ca(2+) entry evoked by alkaline depolarization. In the absence of external Ca(2+), Na(+) carries current through CatSper channels in voltage-clamped sperm. Here we show that CatSper channel activity can be monitored optically with the [Na(+)](i)-reporting probe SBFI in populations of intact sperm. Removal of external Ca(2+) increases SBFI signals in wild-type but not CatSper2-null sperm. The rate of the indicated rise of [Na(+)](i) is greater for sperm alkalinized with NH(4)Cl than for sperm acidified with propionic acid, reflecting the alkaline-promoted signature property of CatSper currents. In contrast, the [Na(+)](i) rise is slowed by candidate CatSper blocker HC-056456 (IC(50) approximately 3 microM). HC-056456 similarly slows the rise of [Ca(2+)](i) that is evoked by alkaline depolarization and reported by fura-2. HC-056456 also selectively and reversibly decreased CatSper currents recorded from patch-clamped sperm. HC-056456 does not prevent activation of motility by HCO(3) (-) but does prevent the development of hyperactivated motility by capacitating incubations, thus producing a phenocopy of the CatSper-null sperm. When applied to hyperactivated sperm, HC-056456 causes a rapid, reversible loss of flagellar waveform asymmetry, similar to the loss that occurs when Ca(2+) entry through the CatSper channel is terminated by removal of external Ca(2+). Thus, open CatSper channels and entry of external Ca(2+) through them sustains hyperactivated motility. These results indicate that pharmacological targeting of the CatSper channel may impose a selective late-stage block to fertility, and that high-throughput screening with an optical reporter of CatSper channel activity may identify additional selective blockers with potential for male-directed contraception.
Project description:In sea urchins, spermatozoan motility is altered by chemotactic peptides, giving rise to the assumption that mammalian eggs also emit chemotactic agents that guide spermatozoa through the female reproductive tract to the mature oocyte. Mammalian spermatozoa indeed undergo complex adaptations within the female (the process of capacitation) that are initiated by agents ranging from pH to progesterone, but these factors are not necessarily taxic. Currently, chemotaxis, thermotaxis, and rheotaxis have not been definitively established in mammals.Here, we show that positive rheotaxis, the ability of organisms to orient and swim against the flow of surrounding fluid, is a major taxic factor for mouse and human sperm. This flow is generated within 4 hr of sexual stimulation and coitus in female mice; prolactin-triggered oviductal fluid secretion clears the oviduct of debris, lowers viscosity, and generates the stream that guides sperm migration in the oviduct. Rheotaxic movement is demonstrated in capacitated and uncapacitated spermatozoa in low- and high-viscosity media. Finally, we show that a unique sperm motion, which we quantify using the sperm head's rolling rate, reflects sperm rotation that generates essential force for positioning the sperm in the stream. Rotation requires CatSper channels, presumably by enabling Ca(2+) influx.We propose that rheotaxis is a major determinant of sperm guidance over long distances in the mammalian female reproductive tract. Coitus induces fluid flow to guide sperm in the oviduct. Sperm rheotaxis requires rotational motion during CatSper channel-dependent hyperactivated motility.
Project description:Is the environmental endocrine disruptor p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE) able to induce non-genomic changes in human sperm and consequently affect functional sperm parameters?p,p'-DDE promoted Ca(2+) flux into human sperm by activating CatSper channels even at doses found in human reproductive fluids, ultimately compromising sperm parameters important for fertilization.p,p'-DDE may promote non-genomic actions and interact directly with pre-existing signaling pathways, as already observed in other cell types. However, although often found in both male and female reproductive fluids, its effects on human spermatozoa function are not known.Normozoospermic sperm samples from healthy individuals were included in this study. Samples were exposed to several p,p'-DDE concentrations for 3 days at 37°C and 5% CO2 in vitro to mimic the putative continuous exposure to this toxicant in the female reproductive tract in vivo. Shorter p,p'-DDE incubation periods were also performed in order to monitor sperm rapid Ca(2+) responses. All experiments were repeated on a minimum of five sperm samples from different individuals.All healthy individuals were recruited at the Biosciences School, University of Birmingham, the Medical Research Institute, University of Dundee and in the Human Reproduction Service at University Hospitals of Coimbra. Intracellular Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+)]i) was monitored by imaging single spermatozoa loaded with Oregon Green BAPTA-1AM and further whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were performed to validate our results. Sperm viability and acrosomal integrity were assessed using the LIVE/DEAD sperm vitality kit and the acrosomal content marker PSA-FITC, respectively.p,p'-DDE rapidly increased [Ca(2+)]i (P < 0.05) even at extremely low doses (1 pM and 1 nM), with magnitudes of response up to 200%, without affecting sperm viability, except after 3 days of continuous exposure to the highest concentration tested (P < 0.05). Furthermore, experiments performed in a low Ca(2+) medium demonstrated that extracellular Ca(2+) influx was responsible for this Ca(2+) increase (P < 0.01). Mibefradil and NNC 55-0396, both inhibitors of the sperm-specific CatSper channel, reversed the p,p'-DDE-induced [Ca(2+)]i rise, suggesting the participation of CatSper in this process (P < 0.05). In fact, whole-cell patch-clamp recordings confirmed CatSper as a target of p,p'-DDE action by monitoring an increase in CatSper currents of >100% (P < 0.01). Finally, acrosomal integrity was adversely affected after 2 days of exposure to p,p'-DDE concentrations, suggesting that [Ca(2+)]i rise may cause premature acrosome reaction (P < 0.05).This is an in vitro study, and caution must be taken when extrapolating the results.A novel non-genomic p,p'-DDE mechanism specific to sperm is shown in this study. p,p'-DDE was able to induce [Ca(2+)]i rise in human sperm through the opening of CatSper consequently compromising male fertility. The promiscuous nature of CatSper activation may predispose human sperm to the action of some persistent endocrine disruptors.The study was supported by both the Portuguese National Science Foundation (FCT; PEst-C/SAU/LA0001/2011) and the UK Wellcome Trust (Grant #86470). SM was supported by the Infertility Research Trust. RST is a recipient of a PhD fellowship from FCT (SFRH/BD/46002/2008). None of the authors has any conflict of interest to declare.
Project description: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.