A novel cross-species inhibitor to study the function of CatSper Ca2+ channels in sperm.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Sperm from many species share the sperm-specific Ca2+ channel CatSper that controls the intracellular Ca2+ concentration and, thereby, the swimming behaviour. A growing body of evidence suggests that the mechanisms controlling the activity of CatSper and its role during fertilization differ among species. A lack of suitable pharmacological tools has hampered the elucidation of the function of CatSper. Known inhibitors of CatSper exhibit considerable side effects and also inhibit Slo3, the principal K+ channel of mammalian sperm. The compound RU1968 was reported to suppress Ca2+ signaling in human sperm by an unknown mechanism. Here, we examined the action of RU1968 on CatSper in sperm from humans, mice, and sea urchins. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH:We resynthesized RU1968 and studied its action on sperm from humans, mice, and the sea urchin Arbacia punctulata by Ca2+ fluorimetry, single-cell Ca2+ imaging, electrophysiology, opto-chemistry, and motility analysis. KEY RESULTS:RU1968 inhibited CatSper in sperm from invertebrates and mammals. The compound lacked toxic side effects in human sperm, did not affect mouse Slo3, and inhibited human Slo3 with about 15-fold lower potency than CatSper. Moreover, in human sperm, RU1968 mimicked CatSper dysfunction and suppressed motility responses evoked by progesterone, an oviductal steroid known to activate CatSper. Finally, RU1968 abolished CatSper-mediated chemotactic navigation in sea urchin sperm. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS:We propose RU1968 as a novel tool to elucidate the function of CatSper channels in sperm across species.
Project description:Spermatozoa sea urchin swimming behaviour is regulated by small peptides from the egg outer envelope. Speract, such a peptide, after binding to its receptor in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus sperm flagella, triggers a signaling pathway that culminates with a train of intracellular calcium oscillations, correlated with changes in sperm swimming pattern. This pathway has been widely studied but not fully characterized. Recent work on Arbacia punctulata sea urchin spermatozoa has documented the presence of the Ca2+ CatSper channel in their flagella and its involvement in chemotaxis. However, if other calcium channels participate in chemotaxis remains unclear. Here, based on an experimentally-backed logical network model, we conclude that CatSper is fundamental in the S. purpuratus speract-activated sea urchin sperm signaling cascade, although other Ca2+ channels could still be relevant. We also present for the first time experimental corroboration of its active presence in S. purpuratus sperm flagella. We argue, prompted by in silico knock-out calculations, that CatSper is the main generator of calcium oscillations in the signaling pathway and that other calcium channels, if present, have a complementary role. The approach adopted here allows us to unveil processes, which are hard to detect exclusively by experimental procedures.
Project description: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.
Project description:The events that occur during chemotaxis of sperm are only partly known. As an essential step toward determining the underlying mechanism, we have recorded Ca2+ dynamics in swimming sperm of marine invertebrates. Stimulation of the sea urchin Arbacia punctulata by the chemoattractant or by intracellular cGMP evokes Ca2+ spikes in the flagellum. A Ca2+ spike elicits a turn in the trajectory followed by a period of straight swimming ('turn-and-run'). The train of Ca2+ spikes gives rise to repetitive loop-like movements. When sperm swim in a concentration gradient of the attractant, the Ca2+ spikes and the stimulus function are synchronized, suggesting that precise timing of Ca2+ spikes controls navigation. We identified the peptide asterosap as a chemotactic factor of the starfish Asterias amurensis. The Ca2+ spikes and swimming behavior of sperm from starfish and sea urchin are similar, implying that the signaling pathway of chemotaxis has been conserved for almost 500 million years.
Project description:Background:CatSper is a sperm-specific calcium ion (Ca2+) channel, which regulates sperm flagellar beating by tuning cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentrations. Although this Ca2+ channel is essential for mammalian fertilization, recent bioinformatics analyses have revealed that genes encoding CatSper are heterogeneously distributed throughout the eukaryotes, including vertebrates. As this channel is activated by cytoplasmic alkalization in mammals and sea urchins, it has been proposed that the sperm-specific Na+/H+ exchanger (sNHE, a product of the SLC9C gene family) positively regulates its activity. In mouse, sNHE is functionally coupled to soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC). CatSper, sNHE, and sAC have thus been considered functionally interconnected in the control of sperm motility, at least in mouse and sea urchin. Results:We carried out a comparative genomic analysis to explore phylogenetic relationships among CatSper, sNHE and sAC in eukaryotes. We found that sNHE occurs only in Metazoa, although sAC occurs widely across eukaryotes. In animals, we found correlated and restricted distribution patterns of the three proteins, suggesting coevolution among them in the Metazoa. Namely, nearly all species in which CatSper is conserved also preserve sNHE and sAC. In contrast, in species without sAC, neither CatSper nor sNHE is conserved. On the other hand, the distribution of another testis-specific NHE (NHA, a product of the SLC9B gene family) does not show any apparent association with that of CatSper. Conclusions:Our results suggest that CatSper, sNHE and sAC form prototypical machinery that functions in regulating sperm flagellar beating in Metazoa. In non-metazoan species, CatSper may be regulated by other H+ transporters, or its activity might be independent of cytoplasmic pH.
Project description:Cilia serve as cellular antennae that translate sensory information into physiological responses. In the sperm flagellum, a single chemoattractant molecule can trigger a Ca2+ rise that controls motility. The mechanisms underlying such ultra-sensitivity are ill-defined. Here, we determine by mass spectrometry the copy number of nineteen chemosensory signaling proteins in sperm flagella from the sea urchin Arbacia punctulata. Proteins are up to 1,000-fold more abundant than the free cellular messengers cAMP, cGMP, H+ , and Ca2+ . Opto-chemical techniques show that high protein concentrations kinetically compartmentalize the flagellum: Within milliseconds, cGMP is relayed from the receptor guanylate cyclase to a cGMP-gated channel that serves as a perfect chemo-electrical transducer. cGMP is rapidly hydrolyzed, possibly via "substrate channeling" from the channel to the phosphodiesterase PDE5. The channel/PDE5 tandem encodes cGMP turnover rates rather than concentrations. The rate-detection mechanism allows continuous stimulus sampling over a wide dynamic range. The textbook notion of signal amplification-few enzyme molecules process many messenger molecules-does not hold for sperm flagella. Instead, high protein concentrations ascertain messenger detection. Similar mechanisms may occur in other small compartments like primary cilia or dendritic spines.
Project description:CatSper channel has been considered the principal sperm Ca2+ channel responsible for the cytosolic Ca2+ elevation required for various sperm functions necessary for fertilization [1-4]. However, the mechanism underlying the activation of CatSper channel by various physiological ligands remain incompletely understood. We have recently demonstrated the expression of C-C chemokine receptor 6 (CCR6) in sperm and Ca2+ influx upon binding of human ?-defensin 1 (DEFB1) to CCR6, which is important for sperm motility . In the present study, we have demonstrated that CCR6 receptor and CatSper channel are both required for the Ca2+ entry/current induced by physiological ligands DEFB1, chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 20 (CCL20) and progesterone in human sperm. CCR6 is co-localized and interacts with CatSper in human sperm. Ca2+ influx mediated by CCR6 and CatSper is required for essential sperm functions, including motility, hyperactivation and acrosome reaction, which are impaired in infertile sperm showing reduced levels of CCR6 and CatSper. The present finding suggests a critical role of CCR6 receptor in mediating ligand-induced, CatSper-dependent Ca2+ influx required for various sperm functions and thus male fertility.
Project description:Chemotaxis refers to a process whereby cells move up or down a chemical gradient. Sperm chemotaxis is known to be a strategy exploited by marine invertebrates such as sea urchins to reach eggs efficiently in moving water. Less is understood about how or whether chemotaxis is used by mammalian sperm to reach eggs, where fertilization takes place within the confinement of a reproductive tract. In this report, we quantitatively assessed sea urchin and mouse sperm chemotaxis using a recently developed microfluidic model and high-speed imaging. Results demonstrated that sea urchin Arbacia punctulata sperm were chemotactic toward the peptide resact with high chemotactic sensitivity, with an average velocity Vx up the chemical gradient as high as 20% of its average speed (238 ?m/s), while mouse sperm displayed no statistically significant chemotactic behavior in progesterone gradients, which had been proposed to guide mammalian sperm toward eggs. This work demonstrates the validity of a microfluidic model for quantitative sperm chemotaxis studies, and reveals a biological insight that chemotaxis up a progesterone gradient may not be a universal strategy for mammalian sperm to reach eggs.
Project description:Cilia and flagella serve as cellular antennae that translate sensory information into cellular responses. In sperm, a single chemoattractant molecule triggers signaling events that evoke a Ca2+ response and chemotactic steering. Key components of the chemotactic signaling pathway from sperm of the sea urchin Arbacia punctulata were investigated. Shotgun proteomics employing SDS-PAGE LC-MS/MS and MudPIT provided the proteome inventory of sperm flagella.
Project description:Mammalian sperm must undergo capacitation as a preparation for entering into hyperactivated motility, undergoing the acrosome reaction, and acquiring fertilizing ability. One of the initial capacitation events occurs when sperm encounter an elevated HCO3 - concentration. This anion activates the atypical adenylyl cyclase Adcy10, increases intracellular cAMP, and stimulates protein kinase A (PKA). Moreover, an increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+] i ) is essential for sperm capacitation. Although a cross-talk between cAMP-dependent pathways and Ca2+ clearly plays an essential role in sperm capacitation, the connection between these signaling events is incompletely understood. Here, using three different approaches, we found that CatSper, the main sperm Ca2+ channel characterized to date, is up-regulated by a cAMP-dependent activation of PKA in mouse sperm. First, HCO3 - and the PKA-activating permeable compound 8-Br-cAMP induced an increase in [Ca2+] i , which was blocked by the PKA peptide inhibitor PKI, and H89, another PKA inhibitor, also abrogated the 8-Br-cAMP response. Second, HCO3 - increased the membrane depolarization induced upon divalent cation removal by promoting influx of monovalent cations through CatSper channels, which was inhibited by PKI, H89, and the CatSper blocker HC-056456. Third, electrophysiological patch clamp, whole-cell recordings revealed that CatSper activity is up-regulated by HCO3 - and by direct cAMP injection through the patch-clamp pipette. The activation by HCO3 - and cAMP was also blocked by PKI, H89, Rp-cAMPS, and HC-056456, and electrophysiological recordings in sperm from CatSper-KO mice confirmed CatSper's role in these activation modes. Our results strongly suggest that PKA-dependent phosphorylation regulates [Ca2+] i homeostasis by activating CatSper channel complexes.
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.