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Access Type

Campus Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Animal Science

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



horse, sperm, pathway, capacitation, hyperactivation


After ejaculation, mammalian spermatozoa must undergo a series of complex and poorly understood cellular events known as “capacitation” in order to be able to fertilize an oocyte. Among these, biochemical changes such as an increase in tyrosine phosphorylation of some sperm proteins have been correlated with the sperm capacity to fertilize an egg and found to be regulated by a cAMP dependent pathway. The influx of ions such as Ca2+ and HCO3- induce the activation of a soluble adenylyl cyclase (SACY) increasing the cAMP levels within the cell that leads to the activation of a protein kinase A (PKA), and a subsequent increase in protein tyrosine phosphorylation. This modification in sperm proteins seems to be essential for induction of a change in the motility pattern known as hyperactivation that enables the sperm to penetrate the zona pellucida of the oocyte and initiate fertilization. Since PKA is a serine/threonine kinase, it is not clear how it mediates protein tyrosine phosphorylation during sperm capacitation. Based on the finding that in somatic cells PKA activates c-Src, it has been proposed that the Src family of protein kinases (SFK) are the intermediate players involved in tyrosine phosphorylation induced by PKA activity. In order to better understand the molecular mechanisms involved in stallion sperm capacitation, the objectives of our study were: (1) To analyze PKA activity during stallion sperm capacitation (2) To evaluate the involvement of the Src family of protein kinases (SFK) on stallion sperm phosphorylation events associated with capacitation. Standard In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) has not been reproducibly successful in the horse. Recent data indicate that good fertilization rates may be achieved after treatment of sperm with procaine to induce hyperactivation. Our objectives were also to determine if drugs used in other species as well as procaine induce hyperactivation in stallion sperm and to evaluate biochemical changes such as protein tyrosine phophorylation.


First Advisor

Pablo E Visconti

Second Advisor

Carlos M. Gradil