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Voltage-operated Ca2+ channels and the acrosome reaction: which channels are present and what do they do?

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Human reproduction (Oxford, England)
Publication Date
Volume
14
Issue
4
Pages
873–879
Identifiers
PMID: 10221211
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Evidence from pharmacological studies suggests that induction of the acrosome reaction of mammalian spermatozoa by solubilized zona pellucida, and possibly by progesterone, is dependent upon Ca2+ influx through voltage-operated Ca2+ channels. Studies on Ca2+ accumulation and membrane potential in ligand-stimulated or artificially depolarized spermatozoa support such a conclusion. Electrophysiological studies on rodent spermatogenic cells have revealed the presence of a 'T' type voltage-operated Ca2+ current. This current has pharmacological attributes consistent with those of the putative channel responsible for Ca2+ influx mediating the acrosome reaction. However, use of molecular techniques to study human and rodent testis and spermatogenic cells has detected the presence of three different voltage-operated Ca2+ channel subunits. One of these (alpha lE) may generate T-currents, though this is currently disputed. Voltage-operated Ca2+ channel structure and the relationship between channel subunit expression and the characteristics of consequent Ca2+ currents is briefly reviewed. The nature and function of T-channel-mediated Ca2+ influx is examined in the context of the time-course of ligand- and depolarization-induced elevation of [Ca2+]i in mammalian spermatozoa. It is likely that a secondary Ca2+ response (mobilization of stored Ca2+ or activation of a second Ca(2+)-influx pathway) is required for the acrosome reaction. Evidence for the existence and participation of various candidates is discussed (including voltage-operated Ca2+ channels, which may be functionally expressed only in mature spermatozoa), the available evidence favouring a secondary Ca(2+)-influx pathway. Immediate priorities for future research in this area are proposed.

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