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Channels (Austin). 2013 Nov-Dec;7(6):483-92. doi: 10.4161/chan.25793. Epub 2013 Aug 2.

Thermosensitive ion channel TRPV1 is endogenously expressed in the sperm of a fresh water teleost fish (Labeo rohita) and regulates sperm motility.

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National Institute of Science Education and Research; Institute of Physics Campus; Bhubaneswar, India.
Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture; Bhubaneswar, India.
School of Biotechnology; KIIT University; Bhubaneswar, India.
School of Biotechnology; KIIT University; Bhubaneswar, India; Department of Zoology; Ravenshaw University; Cuttack, India.
Department of Zoology; Ravenshaw University; Cuttack, India.
Department of Biochemistry; OVC; Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology; Bhubaneswar, India.
San Diego State University; San Diego, CA USA.
Department of Genetics & Molecular Biology in Botany; Institute of Botany; Christian-Albrechts-University at Kiel; Kiel, Germany.


Sperm cells exhibit extremely high sensitivity in response to slight changes in temperature, osmotic pressure and/or presence of various chemical stimuli. In most cases throughout the evolution, these physico-chemical stimuli trigger Ca (2+)-signaling and subsequently alter structure, cellular function, motility and survival of the sperm cells. Few reports have recently demonstrated the presence of Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels in the sperm cells from higher eukaryotes, mainly from higher mammals. In this work, we have explored if the sperm cells from lower vertebrates can also have thermo-sensitive TRP channels. In this paper, we demonstrate the endogenous presence of one specific thermo-sensitive ion channel, namely Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid family member sub type 1 (TRPV1) in the sperm cells collected from fresh water teleost fish, Labeo rohita. By using western blot analysis, fluorescence assisted cell sorting (FACS) and confocal microscopy; we confirm the presence of this non-selective cation channel. Activation of TRPV1 by an endogenous activator NADA significantly increases the quality as well as the duration of fish sperm movement. The sperm cell specific expression of TRPV1 matches well with our in silico sequence analysis. The results demonstrate that TRPV1 gene is conserved in various fishes, ranging from 1-3 in copy number, and it originated by fish-specific duplication events within the last 320 million years (MY). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating the presence of any thermo-sensitive TRP channels in the sperm cells of early vertebrates as well as of aquatic animals, which undergo external fertilization in fresh water. This observation may have implications in the aquaculture, breeding of several fresh water and marine fish species and cryopreservation of fish sperms.


Ca2+ channels; Ca2+-signaling; Capsaicin; Labeo rohita; NADA; TRPV1; Vertebrate evolution; sperm cells; sperm motility; teleost fish

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