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Mol Reprod Dev. 2004 Apr;67(4):487-500.

Bovine sperm capacitation: assessment of phosphodiesterase activity and intracellular alkalinization on capacitation-associated protein tyrosine phosphorylation.

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Center for Research on Reproduction and Women's Health, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Mammalian sperm capacitation is the obligatory maturational process leading to the development of the fertilization-competent state. Heparin is known to be a unique species-specific inducer of bovine sperm capacitation in vitro and glucose a unique inhibitor of this induction. Heparin-induced capacitation of bovine sperm has been shown to correlate with protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent protein tyrosine phosphorylation driven by an increase in intracellular cAMP. This study examines the possible roles of cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (PDE) activity and intracellular alkalinization on bovine sperm capacitation and the protein tyrosine phosphorylation associated with it. Measurement of whole cell PDE kinetics during capacitation reveals neither a substantial change with heparin nor one with glucose: PDE activity is effectively constitutive in maintaining intracellular cAMP levels during capacitation. In contrast to a transient increase in intracellular pH, a sustained increase in medium pH by switching from 5% CO(2)/95% air incubation to 1% CO(2)/99% air incubation over 4 hr in the absence of heparin resulted in an increase in protein tyrosine phosphorylation and in the extent of induced acrosome reaction comparable to that observed following heparin-induced capacitation in 5% CO(2). These results suggest that increased bicarbonate-dependent adenylyl cyclase activity, driven by alkalinization, increases intracellular cAMP and so increases PKA activity mediating protein tyrosine phosphorylation. Quantitative analysis of the lactic acid production rate by bovine sperm glycolysis accounts fully for intracellular acidification sufficient to offset heparin-induced alkalinization, thus inhibiting capacitation. The mechanism by which heparin uniquely induces intracellular alkalinization in bovine sperm leading to capacitation remains obscure, inviting future investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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