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Tyrosine phosphorylation events in mouse sperm capacitation

Enid Arcelay, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Mammalian sperm are not able to fertilize immediately upon ejaculation; they become fertilization-competent after undergoing changes in the female reproductive tract collectively termed capacitation. Although it has been established that capacitation is associated with an increase in tyrosine phosphorylation, little is known about the role of this event in sperm function. In this work we used a combination of two dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry to identify proteins that undergo tyrosine phosphorylation during capacitation. Some of the identified proteins are the mouse orthologues of human sperm proteins known to undergo tyrosine phosphorylation. Among them we identified VDAC, tubulin, PDH E1 β chain, glutathione S-transferase, NADH dehydrogenase (ubiquinone) Fe-S protein 6, acrosin binding protein precursor (sp32), proteasome subunit alpha type 6b and cytochrome b-c1 complex. In addition to previously described proteins, we identified two testis-specific aldolases as substrates for tyrosine phosphorylation. Genomic and EST analyses suggest that these aldolases are retroposons expressed exclusively in the testis, as has been reported elsewhere. Because of the importance of glycolysis for sperm function, we hypothesize that tyrosine phosphorylation of these proteins can play a role in the regulation of glycolysis during capacitation. However, neither the Km nor the Vmax of aldolase changed as a function of capacitation when its enzymatic activity was assayed in vitro, suggesting other levels of regulation for aldolase function. Looking upstream the kinase cascade, the identity of the kinase (s) that brings about the phosphorylation of the tyrosine residues remains to be elucidated. It has been suggested that the non receptor tyrosine kinase Src family is involved in the capacitation associated phosphorylation cascade. Using an immunological approach we show that the only Src family member present in mouse sperm extract is Src. The capacitation associated tyrosine phosphorylation is greatly reduced in the presence of Src specific inhibitors (SU6656 and SKI606) in vivo. As a means of control for the activity of Src inhibitors in our system, parallel experiments assaying the activity of PKA both in vivo and in vitro were realized. Surprisingly, Src inhibitors down regulates the phosphorylation of serine/threonine residues that correlate on earlier events in the capacitation, as assayed by western blot with PKA substrates antibody. However, in vitro kinase activity of PKA showed no effect of Src inhibitors in the phosphorylation of the PKA specific substrate, kemptide.

Subject Area

Cellular biology

Recommended Citation

Arcelay, Enid, "Tyrosine phosphorylation events in mouse sperm capacitation" (2009). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3379935.