Novel pharmacological actions of trequinsin hydrochloride improve human sperm cell motility and function.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Asthenozoospermia is a leading cause of male infertility, but development of pharmacological agents to improve sperm motility is hindered by the lack of effective screening platforms and knowledge of suitable molecular targets. We have demonstrated that a high-throughput screening (HTS) strategy and established in vitro tests can identify and characterise compounds that improve sperm motility. Here, we applied HTS to identify new compounds from a novel small molecule library that increase intracellular calcium ([Ca2+ ]i ), promote human sperm cell motility, and systematically determine the mechanism of action. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH:A validated HTS fluorometric [Ca2+ ]i assay was used to screen an in-house library of compounds. Trequinsin hydrochloride (a PDE3 inhibitor) was selected for detailed molecular (plate reader assays, electrophysiology, and cyclic nucleotide measurement) and functional (motility and acrosome reaction) testing in sperm from healthy volunteer donors and, where possible, patients. KEY RESULTS:Fluorometric assays identified trequinsin as an efficacious agonist of [Ca2+ ]i , although less potent than progesterone. Functionally, trequinsin significantly increased cell hyperactivation and penetration into viscous medium in all donor sperm samples and cell hyperactivation in 22/25 (88%) patient sperm samples. Trequinsin-induced [Ca2+ ]i responses were cross-desensitised consistently by PGE1 but not progesterone. Whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology confirmed that trequinsin activated CatSper and partly inhibited potassium channel activity. Trequinsin also increased intracellular cGMP. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS:Trequinsin exhibits a novel pharmacological profile in human sperm and may be a suitable lead compound for the development of new agents to improve patient sperm function and fertilisation potential.
Project description:Can pharma drug discovery approaches be utilized to transform investigation into novel therapeutics for male infertility?High-throughput screening (HTS) is a viable approach to much-needed drug discovery for male factor infertility.There is both huge demand and a genuine clinical need for new treatment options for infertile men. However, the time, effort and resources required for drug discovery are currently exorbitant, due to the unique challenges of the cellular, physical and functional properties of human spermatozoa and a lack of appropriate assay platform.Spermatozoa were obtained from healthy volunteer research donors and subfertile patients undergoing IVF/ICSI at a hospital-assisted reproductive techniques clinic between January 2012 and November 2016.A HTS assay was developed and validated using intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) as a surrogate for motility in human spermatozoa. Calcium fluorescence was detected using a Flexstation microplate reader (384-well platform) and compared with responses evoked by progesterone, a compound known to modify a number of biologically relevant behaviours in human spermatozoa. Hit compounds identified following single point drug screen (10 ?M) of an ion channel-focussed library assembled by the University of Dundee Drug Discovery Unit were rescreened to ensure potency using standard 10 point half-logarithm concentration curves, and tested for purity and integrity using liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Hit compounds were grouped by structure activity relationships and five representative compounds then further investigated for direct effects on spermatozoa, using computer-assisted sperm assessment, sperm penetration assay and whole-cell patch clamping.Of the 3242 ion channel library ligands screened, 384 compounds (11.8%) elicited a statistically significant increase in calcium fluorescence, with greater than 3× median absolute deviation above the baseline. Seventy-four compounds eliciting ?50% increase in fluorescence in the primary screen were rescreened and evaluated further, resulting in 48 hit compounds that produced a concentration-dependent increase in [Ca2+]i. Sperm penetration studies confirmed in vitro exposure to two hit compounds (A and B) resulted in significant improvement in functional motility in spermatozoa from healthy volunteer donors (A: 1 cm penetration index 2.54, 2 cm penetration index 2.49; P < 0.005 and B: 1 cm penetration index 2.1, 2 cm penetration index 2.6; P < 0.005), but crucially, also in patient samples from those undergoing fertility treatment (A: 1 cm penetration index 2.4; P = 0.009, 2 cm penetration index 3.6; P = 0.02 and B: 1 cm penetration index 2.2; P = 0.0004, 2 cm penetration index 3.6; P = 0.002). This was primarily as a result of direct or indirect CatSper channel action, supported by evidence from electrophysiology studies of individual sperm.Increase and fluxes in [Ca2+]i are fundamental to the regulation of sperm motility and function, including acrosome reaction. The use of calcium signalling as a surrogate for sperm motility is acknowledged as a potential limitation in this study.We conclude that HTS can robustly, efficiently, identify novel compounds that increase [Ca2+]i in human spermatozoa and functionally modify motility, and propose its use as a cornerstone to build and transform much-needed drug discovery for male infertility.The majority of the data were obtained using funding from TENOVUS Scotland and Chief Scientist Office NRS Fellowship. Additional funding was provided by NHS Tayside, MRC project grants (MR/K013343/1, MR/012492/1) and University of Abertay. The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.N/A.
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:Sperm motility is essential for fertilization. The asymmetry of flagellar beat in spermatozoa is finely regulated by intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i). Recently, we demonstrated that the application of high concentrations (10-20 μM) of the Ca2+ ionophore A23187 promotes sperm immobilization after 10 min, and its removal thereafter allows motility recovery, hyperactivation, and fertilization. In addition, the same ionophore treatment overcomes infertility observed in sperm from Catsper1-/-, Slo3-/-, and Adcy10-/-, but not PMCA4-/-, which strongly suggest that regulation of [Ca2+]i is mandatory for sperm motility and hyperactivation. In this study, we found that prior to inducing sperm immobilization, high A23187 concentrations (10 μM) increase flagellar beat. While 5-10 μM A23187 substantially elevates [Ca2+]i and rapidly immobilizes sperm in a few minutes, smaller concentrations (0.5 and 1 μM) provoke smaller [Ca2+]i increases and sperm hyperactivation, confirming that [Ca2+]i increases act as a motility switch. Until now, the [Ca2+]i thresholds that switch motility on and off were not fully understood. To study the relationship between [Ca2+]i and flagellar beating, we developed an automatic tool that allows the simultaneous measurement of these two parameters. Individual spermatozoa were treated with A23187, which is then washed to evaluate [Ca2+]i and flagellar beat recovery using the implemented method. We observe that [Ca2+]i must decrease below a threshold concentration range to facilitate subsequent flagellar beat recovery and sperm motility.
Project description: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:Human sperm cell function must be precisely regulated to achieve natural fertilization. Progesterone released by the cumulus cells surrounding the egg induces a Ca2+ influx into human sperm cells via the CatSper Ca2+-channel and thereby controls sperm function. Multiple chemical UV filters have been shown to induce a Ca2+ influx through CatSper, thus mimicking the effect of progesterone on Ca2+ signaling. We hypothesized that these UV filters could also mimic the effect of progesterone on sperm function. We examined 29 UV filters allowed in sunscreens in the US and/or EU for their ability to affect acrosome reaction, penetration, hyperactivation and viability in human sperm cells. We found that, similar to progesterone, the UV filters 4-MBC, 3-BC, Meradimate, Octisalate, BCSA, HMS and OD-PABA induced acrosome reaction and 3-BC increased sperm penetration into a viscous medium. The capacity of the UV filters to induce acrosome reaction and increase sperm penetration was positively associated with the ability of the UV filters to induce a Ca2+ influx. None of the UV filters induced significant changes in the proportion of hyperactivated cells. In conclusion, chemical UV filters that mimic the effect of progesterone on Ca2+ signaling in human sperm cells can similarly mimic the effect of progesterone on acrosome reaction and sperm penetration. Human exposure to these chemical UV filters may impair fertility by interfering with sperm function, e.g. through induction of premature acrosome reaction. Further studies are needed to confirm the results in vivo.
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:PURPOSE:The aims of this paper were to study whether heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) is a regulator of sperm functions and to determine its association with oligoasthenozoospermia. METHODS:The levels of HSP90 in sperm lysates were measured by ELISA. Localization of HSP90 and its isoforms was evaluated by immunofluorescence. Sperm motility and kinetics were assessed by computer-assisted sperm analysis. Acrosome reaction was determined by lectin staining. RESULTS:The levels of HSP90 were lower in oligoasthenozoospermic men and correlated positively with the number of motile spermatozoa. In capacitated human spermatozoa, HSP90α was mostly found in residual nuclear envelope, and the HSP90β isoform was higher in the flagella. Inhibition of HSP90 by geldanamycin or 17-AAG did not affect basal motility, but suppressed progesterone-mediated forward progressive motility, hyperactivation and acrosome reaction. Progesterone treatment dephosphorylated both HSP90α and HSP90β at Ser/Thr-Pro residues, but not Tyr residues. CONCLUSION:HSP90 levels are downregulated in oligoasthenozoospermia, and its functional inhibition attenuates progesterone-mediated sperm motility and acrosome reaction.
Project description:Human sperm show a variety of different behaviours (types of motility) that have different functional roles. Previous reports suggest that sperm may reversibly switch between these behaviours. We have recorded and analysed the behaviour of individual human sperm (180 cells in total), each cell monitored continuously for 3-3.5 min either under control conditions or in the presence of Ca2+-mobilising stimuli. Switching between different behaviours was assessed visually (1 s bins using four behaviour categories), and was verified by fractal dimension analysis of sperm head tracks. In the absence of stimuli, ~90% of cells showed at least one behavioural transition (mean rate under control conditions = 6.4 ± 0.8 transitions.min-1). Type 1 behaviour (progressive, activated-like motility) was most common, but the majority of cells (>70%) displayed at least three behaviour types. Treatment of sperm with Ca2+-mobilising agonists had negligible effects on the rate of switching but increased the time spent in type 2 and type 3 (hyperactivation-like) behaviours (P < 2*10-8; chi-square). Treatment with 4-aminopyridine under alkaline conditions (pHo = 8.5), a highly-potent Ca2+-mobilising stimulus, was the most effective in increasing the proportion of type 3 behaviour, biasing switching away from type 1 (P < 0.005) and dramatically extending the duration of type 3 events (P < 10-16). Other stimuli, including 300 nM progesterone and 1% human follicular fluid, had qualitatively similar effects but were less potent. We conclude that human sperm observed in vitro constitutively display a range of behaviours and regulation of motility by [Ca2+]i, at the level of the single cell, is achieved not by causing cells to adopt a 'new' behaviour but by changing the relative contributions of those behaviours.
Project description:Elevations of sperm Ca2+ seem to be responsible for an asymmetric form of motility called hyperactivation, which is first seen near the time of fertilization. The mechanism by which intracellular Ca2+ concentrations increase remains unknown despite considerable investigation. Although several prototypical voltage-gated calcium channels are present in spermatozoa, they are not essential for motility. Furthermore, the forward velocity and percentage of motility of spermatozoa are associated with infertility, but their importance relative to hyperactivation also remains unknown. We show here that disruption of the gene for a recently described sperm-specific voltage-gated cation channel, CatSper2, fails to significantly alter sperm production, protein tyrosine phosphorylation that is associated with capacitation, induction of the acrosome reaction, forward velocity, or percentage of motility, yet CatSper2-/- males are completely infertile. The defect that we identify in the null sperm cells is a failure to acquire hyperactivated motility, which seems to render spermatozoa incapable of generating the "power" needed for penetration of the extracellular matrix of the egg. A loss of power is suggested also by experiments in which the viscosity of the medium was increased after incubation of spermatozoa in normal capacitating conditions. In high-viscosity medium, CatSper2-null spermatozoa lost the ability to swim forward, whereas wild-type cells continued to move forward. Thus, CatSper2 is responsible for driving hyperactivated motility, and, even with typical sperm forward velocities, fertilization is not possible in the absence of this highly active form of motility.
Project description:[Ca(2+)]i signaling regulates sperm motility, enabling switching between functionally different behaviors that the sperm must employ as it ascends the female tract and fertilizes the oocyte. We report that different behaviors in human sperm are recruited according to the Ca(2+) signaling pathway used. Activation of CatSper (by raising pHi or stimulating with progesterone) caused sustained [Ca(2+)]i elevation but did not induce hyperactivation, the whiplash-like behavior required for progression along the oviduct and penetration of the zona pellucida. In contrast, penetration into methylcellulose (mimicking penetration into cervical mucus or cumulus matrix) was enhanced by activation of CatSper. NNC55-0396, which abolishes CatSper currents in human sperm, inhibited this effect. Treatment with 5 ?m thimerosal to mobilize stored Ca(2+) caused sustained [Ca(2+)]i elevation and induced strong, sustained hyperactivation that was completely insensitive to NNC55-0396. Thimerosal had no effect on penetration into methylcellulose. 4-Aminopyridine, a powerful modulator of sperm motility, both raised pHi and mobilized Ca(2+) stored in sperm (and from microsomal membrane preparations). 4-Aminopyridine-induced hyperactivation even in cells suspended in Ca(2+)-depleted medium and also potentiated penetration into methylcellulose. The latter effect was sensitive to NNC55-039, but induction of hyperactivation was not. We conclude that these two components of the [Ca(2+)]i signaling apparatus have strikingly different effects on sperm motility. Furthermore, since stored Ca(2+) at the sperm neck can be mobilized by Ca(2+)-induced Ca(2+) release, we propose that CatSper activation can elicit functionally different behaviors according to the sensitivity of the Ca(2+) store, which may be regulated by capacitation and NO from the cumulus.