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Biol Reprod. 2003 May;68(5):1590-6. Epub 2002 Nov 27.

Characterization of the intracellular calcium store at the base of the sperm flagellum that regulates hyperactivated motility.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


Hyperactivated sperm motility is usually characterized by high-amplitude flagellar bends and asymmetrical flagellar beating. There is evidence that an inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) receptor-gated Ca2+ store in the base of the flagellum provides Ca2+ to initiate hyperactivation; however, the identity of the store was not known. Ca2+ stores are membrane-bounded organelles, and the only two membrane-bounded organelles found in this region of sperm are the redundant nuclear envelope (RNE) and mitochondria. Transmission electron micrographs revealed two different compartments of RNE, one enriched with nuclear pores and the other containing few pores but extensive membranous structures with enlarged cisternae. Immunolabeling showed that IP3 receptors and calreticulin are located in the region containing enlarged cisternae. In other cell types, mitochondria adjacent to Ca2+ stores are actively involved in modulating Ca2+ signals by taking up Ca2+ released from stores and also may respond by increasing production of NADH and ATP to support increased energy demand. Nevertheless, bull sperm did not show an increase in NADH when Ca2+ was released from intracellular stores by thapsigargin to induce hyperactivation. Consistently, no net increase in ATP production was detected when sperm were hyperactivated, although ATP was hydrolyzed at a greater rate. Furthermore, blocking Ca2+ efflux from mitochondria by CGP-37157, a specific inhibitor of the mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ exchanger, did not inhibit the development of hyperactivated motility. We concluded that the intracellular Ca2+ store is the part of RNE that contains enlarged cisternae and that Ca2+ is released directly to the axoneme to trigger hyperactivated motility without the active participation of mitochondria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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