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Gamete Res. 1988 Nov;21(3):267-76.

Inhibition of adenosine-metabolizing enzymes modulates mouse sperm fertilizing ability: a changing role for endogenously generated adenosine during capacitation.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Human Biology, King's College, Strand, London, England.


The effect of inhibiting adenosine-metabolizing enzymes on sperm fertilizing ability was studied to investigate a possible role for endogenously generated adenosine in the regulation of capacitation. The compounds used have been shown to be effective inhibitors of the relevant enzymes in similarly incubated mouse sperm suspensions. Inhibition of 5'-nucleotidase activity with alpha, beta-methylene adenosine 5'-diphosphate (AMPCP), to reduce available endogenous adenosine, caused a dose-dependent inhibition of the fertilizing ability of partially capacitated spermatozoa, which was significant with 100 and 250 microM AMPCP. Conversely, inhibition of adenosine deaminase with 100 nM coformycin, to increase available endogenous adenosine, promoted the fertilizing ability of partially capacitated spermatozoa when the fertilization rate of control suspensions was low. However, coformycin had no effect on sperm suspensions with moderate fertilizing ability, and it inhibited fertilizing ability when added to capacitated spermatozoa. These data are consistent with a promotion of the early stages of capacitation by endogenously generated adenosine and suggest that sensitivity to adenosine changes as capacitation proceeds. Because the majority of adenosine-metabolizing enzyme activity residues in or is directed toward the extracellular compartment in such suspensions, these effects of adenosine may be mediated at the outer surface of the cell. By interacting with receptors on adenylate cyclase, externally produced adenosine could modulate intracellular levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), thereby influencing fertilizing ability.

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