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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Feb 4;1417(1):77-88.

Liposomes fuse with sperm cells and induce activation by delivery of impermeant agents.

Author information

1
Sperm Cell Biology and Gamete Ultrastructure Laboratory, Department of Biological Science, California State University, Fullerton, P.O. Box 6850, Fullerton, CA 92834-6850, USA.

Abstract

Sperm cell activation is a critical step in fertilization. To directly investigate the cell signaling events leading to sperm activation it is necessary to deliver membrane impermeant agents into the cytoplasm. In this study, the use of liposomes as possible agent-loading vectors was examined using (1) the octadecylrhodamine B (R18) and NBD phosphatidylethanolamine (NBD DHPE)/rhodamine phosphatidylethanolamine (rhod DHPE) fusion assays in bulk samples, (2) membrane transfer of fluorescence from liposome membranes labeled with R18 and rhodamine-tagged phosphatidylethanolamine (TRITC DHPE), and (3) lumenal transfer of impermeant calcium ions from liposomes to sperm cells, a process that stimulated sperm cell activation. Intermediate-sized unilamellar liposomes (98.17+/-15.34 nm) were prepared by the detergent-removal technique using sodium cholate as the detergent and a phosphatidylcholine/phosphatidylethanolamine/cholesterol (2:1:1 mole ratio) lipid composition. In the R18 fusion assays, self-quenching increased logarithmically with increasing concentrations of R18 in the liposome membranes; addition of unlabeled sperm to R18-labeled liposomes lead to a rapid release of self-quenching. In the NBD DHPE/rhod DHPE resonance energy transfer (RET) fusion assay, RET was rapidly reduced under similar conditions. In addition, individual sperm became fluorescent when TRITC DHPE-labeled liposomes were incubated with unlabeled sperm cells. Incubation of sperm cells with empty liposomes did not significantly affect sperm cell activation and did not alter cell morphology. However, incubation with Ca (10 mM)-loaded liposomes resulted in a time-dependent increase in sperm cell activation (7.5-fold over controls after 15 min). We conclude that liposomes can be used for direct loading of membrane-impermeant agents into sea squirt sperm cell cytoplasm, and that delivery occurs via fusion and content intermixing.

PMID:
10076037
DOI:
10.1016/s0005-2736(98)00258-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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