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Calmodulin Signals Capacitation and Triggers the Agonist-Induced Acrosome Reaction in Mouse Spermatozoa

Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1006/abbi.2001.2364
  • Biology
  • Pharmacology


Abstract Capacitated acrosome-intact spermatozoa interact with specific sugar residues on neoglycoproteins (ngps) or solubilized zona pellucida (ZP), the egg's extracellular glycocalyx, prior to the initiation of a signal transduction cascade that results in the fenestration and fusion of the sperm plasma membrane and the outer acrosomal membrane at multiple sites and exocytosis of acrosomal contents (i.e., induction of the acrosome reaction (AR)). The AR releases acrosomal contents at the site of sperm–zona binding and is thought to be a prerequisite event that allows spermatozoa to penetrate the ZP and fertilize the egg. Since Ca2+/calmodulin (CaM) plays a significant role in several cell signaling pathways and membrane fusion events, we have used a pharmacological approach to examine the role of CaM, a calcium-binding protein, in sperm capacitation and agonist-induced AR. Inclusion of CaM antagonists (calmodulin binding domain, calmidazolium, compound 48/80, ophiobolin A, W5, W7, and W13), either in in vitro capacitation medium or after sperm capacitation blocked the npg-/ZP-induced AR. Purified CaM largely reversed the AR blocking effects of antagonists during capacitation. Our results demonstrate that CaM plays an important role in priming (i.e., capacitation) of mouse spermatozoa as well as in the agonist-induced AR. These data allow us to propose that CaM regulates these events by modulating sperm membrane component(s).

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