[Frontiers in Bioscience 11, 1636-1645, May 1, 2006]

Regulation of mammalian sperm capacitation by endogenous molecules

Lynn R Fraser 1, Susan A Adeoya-Osiguwa 1, Rhona W Baxendale 1,2, and Rachel Gibbons 1

1 Reproduction and Rhythms Group, School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, King's College London, Guy's Campus, London SE1 1UL, UK, 2 Cell and Molecular Biology, The Institute of Cancer Research, 237 Fulham Road, London SW3 6JB, UK


1. Abstract
2. Introduction
3. First messengers other than FPP and their receptors
4. G proteins
5. Adenylyl cyclase isoforms
6. Phosphodiesterases
7. Involvement of decapacitation factors
8. Future developments
9. Acknowledgements
10. References


Capacitation in vitro in mammalian spermatozoa can be regulated by a number of first messengers, including fertilization promoting peptide, adenosine, calcitonin and angiotensin II, all of which are found in seminal plasma. The responses appear to involve several separate signal transduction pathways that have a common end point. These seminal-plasma derived first messengers can bind to specific receptors and directly or indirectly modulate the activity of membrane-associated adenylyl cyclase isoforms and production of the second messenger cAMP. Responses to all of these except angiotensin II involve initial acceleration of cAMP production and capacitation followed by inhibition of both cAMP production and spontaneous acrosome loss, resulting in maintenance of fertilizing potential. Appropriate G proteins and various phosphodiesterase isoforms also appear to be involved. The transition from stimulatory to inhibitory responses involves loss of decapacitation factors (DF) from receptors (DF-R) on the external surface; a DF-R present on both mouse and human spermatozoa has recently been identified as phosphatidylethanolamine-binding protein 1. The presence/absence of DF appears to cause changes in the plasma membrane that then alter the functionality of various membrane-associated proteins, including receptors. Since spermatozoa contact these first messengers at ejaculation, it is plausible that their actions observed in vitro also occur in vivo, allowing these molecules to play a pivotal role in enhancing the chances of successful fertilization.