Identification of a nuclear localization signal in activin/inhibin betaA subunit; intranuclear betaA in rat spermatogenic cells.
Activin is a dimeric glycoprotein hormone that was initially characterized by its ability to stimulate pituitary FSH secretion and was subsequently recognized as a growth factor with diverse biological functions in a large variety of tissues. In the testis, activin has been implicated in the auto/paracrine regulation of spermatogenesis through its cognate cell membrane receptors on Sertoli and germ cells. In this study we provide evidence for intranuclear activin/inhibin betaA subunit and show its distribution in the rat seminiferous epithelium. We have shown by transient expression in HeLa cells of beta-galactosidase fusion proteins that the betaA subunit precursor contains a functional nuclear localization signal within the lysine-rich sequence corresponding to amino acids 231-244. In all stages of the rat seminiferous epithelial cycle, an intense immunohistochemical staining of nuclear betaA was demonstrated in intermediate or type B spermatogonia or primary spermatocytes in their initial stages of the first meiotic prophase, as well as in pachytene spermatocytes and elongating spermatids primarily in stages IX-XII. In some pachytene spermatocytes, the pattern of betaA immunoreactivity was consistent with the characteristic distribution of pachytene chromosomes. In the nuclei of round spermatids, betaA immunoreactivity was less intense, and in late spermatids it was localized in the residual cytoplasm, suggesting disposal of betaA before spermatozoal maturation. Immunoblot analysis of a protein extract from isolated testicular nuclei revealed a nuclear betaA species with a molecular mass of approximately 24 kDa, which is more than 1.5 times that of the mature activin betaA subunit present in activin dimers. These results suggest that activin/inhibin betaA may elicit its biological functions through two parallel signal transduction pathways, one involving the dimeric molecule and cell surface receptors and the other an alternately processed betaA sequence acting directly within the nucleus. According to our immunohistochemical data, betaA may play a significant role in the regulation of nuclear functions during meiosis and spermiogenesis. (+info)
Scrotal heat stress induces altered sperm chromatin structure associated with a decrease in protamine disulfide bonding in the stallion.
A variety of testicular insults can induce changes in the structure of spermatozoal chromatin, resulting in spermatozoal DNA that is more susceptible to acid-induced denaturation. The degree of change in the DNA can be measured using the sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA). The SCSA measures the relative amounts of single- and double-stranded DNA after staining with the metachromatic dye, acridine orange. Here we used a stallion model (n = 4) to study the effects of scrotal heat stress on spermatozoal DNA. This model was created by insulating stallion testes for 48 h and collecting sperm daily thereafter for 60 days. Changes in the SCSA were then correlated with protamine disulfide content and protamine types and levels. Results of the SCSA indicated that the susceptibility of spermatozoal DNA to denaturation was dependent on the spermatogenic cell stage that the ejaculated sperm was in at the time of the heat stress. Spermatozoa with altered DNA had a decrease in the extent of disulfide bonding that was associated with an increase in the susceptibility of DNA to denaturation. However, there were no detectable changes in either the protamine type or level. Thus, in this model, decreased disulfide bonding is associated with an increased susceptibility of spermatozoal DNA to denaturation in the absence of protamine changes. (+info)
An intact sperm nuclear matrix may be necessary for the mouse paternal genome to participate in embryonic development.
We have been interested in determining the minimally required elements in the sperm head that are necessary in order for the paternal genome to participate in embryogenesis. We used an ionic detergent, mixed alkyltrimethylammonium bromide (ATAB), plus dithiothreitol (DTT) to remove the acrosome and almost all of the perinuclear theca, leaving only the sperm nucleus morphologically intact. We also tested the stability of the sperm nuclear matrix by the ability to form nuclear halos. Sperm nuclei washed in freshly prepared 0.5% ATAB + 2 mM DTT completely decondensed when extracted with salt, but nuclei washed in the same buffer that was 1 wk old, and then extracted with salt, produced nuclear halos, indicating stable nuclear matrices. When we treated sperm heads with freshly prepared ATAB+DTT and injected them into oocytes, none of the oocytes developed into live offspring. In contrast, sperm heads treated in the same way but with 1-wk-old ATAB+DTT solution could support development of about 30% of the oocytes to live offspring. Electron microscopy demonstrated that most of the perinuclear theca had been removed in both cases. These data suggest that at least in the mouse, the only component of the spermatozoa that is crucial for participation in embryologic development is the sperm nucleus with a stable nuclear matrix. (+info)
A possible role for the pentose phosphate pathway of spermatozoa in gamete fusion in the mouse.
Glucose metabolism is essential for successful gamete fusion in the mouse. Although the metabolic activity of the oocyte does not appear to play a significant role in the fusion step, the metabolic role of the spermatozoon is not known. The aim of this study was therefore to characterize the role of glucose metabolism in mouse spermatozoa. Initially, the high-affinity glucose transporter GLUT3 was identified in mouse sperm. In characterizing the glucose metabolism of mouse sperm, we have shown 1) that mouse epididymal spermatozoa have a functional pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), implying that they produce NADPH, which is required for reducing reactions, and ribose 5-phosphate, which is required for nucleic acid synthesis; and 2) that sperm are able to fuse with the oocyte when NADPH is substituted for glucose, suggesting that sperm need to produce NADPH via the PPP in order to be able to achieve fertilization. The existence of an NADPH-regulated event that influences the ability of the sperm to fuse with the oocyte is envisaged. (+info)
A novel trans-complementation assay suggests full mammalian oocyte activation is coordinately initiated by multiple, submembrane sperm components.
To initiate normal embryonic development, an egg must receive a signal to become activated at fertilization. We here report that the ability of demembranated sperm heads to activate is abolished after incubation over the range 20-44 degreesC and is sensitive to reducing agents. On the basis of this observation, we have developed a microinjection-based, trans-complementation assay in order to dissect the heat-inactivated sperm-borne oocyte-activating factor(s) (SOAF). We demonstrate that the failure of heat-inactivated sperm heads to activate an egg is rescued by coinjection with dithiothreitol-solubilized SOAF from demembranated sperm heads. The solubilized SOAF (SOAFs) is trypsin sensitive and is liberated from demembranated heads in a temperature-dependent manner that inversely correlates with the ability of sperm heads to activate. This argues that SOAFs is a proteinaceous molecular species required to initiate activation. Injection of oocytes with mouse or hamster sperm cytosolic factors, but not SOAFs alone, induced resumption of meiosis, further suggesting that these cytosolic factors and SOAF are distinct. Collectively, these data strongly suggest that full mammalian oocyte activation is initiated by the coordinated action of one or more heat-sensitive protein constituents of the perinuclear matrix and at least one heat-stable submembrane component. (+info)
Sperm transport in the human female genital tract and its modulation by oxytocin as assessed by hysterosalpingoscintigraphy, hysterotonography, electrohysterography and Doppler sonography.
The transport function of the uterus and oviducts and its modulation by oxytocin has been examined using hysterosalpingoscintigraphy, recording of intrauterine pressure, electrohysterography and Doppler sonography of the Fallopian tubes. After application to the posterior vaginal fornix, a rapid (within minutes) uptake of the labelled particles into the uterus was observed during the follicular and during the luteal phase of the cycle in all patients. Transport into the oviducts, however, could only be demonstrated during the follicular phase. Transport was directed predominantly into the tube ipsilateral to the ovary bearing the dominant follicle; the contralateral oviduct appeared to be functionally closed. The proportion of patients exhibiting ipsilateral transport did increase concomitant with the increase of the diameter of the dominant follicle. That ipsilateral transport has biological significance is suggested by the observation that the pregnancy rate following spontaneous intercourse or insemination was significantly higher in those women in whom ipsilateral transport could be demonstrated than in those who failed to exhibit lateralization. Oxytocin administration was followed by a dramatic increase in the amount of material transported to the ipsilateral tube, as demonstrated by radionuclide imaging and by Doppler sonography following instillation of ultrasound contrast medium. Continuous recording of intrauterine pressure before and after oxytocin administration did show an increase in basal tonus and amplitude of contractions and a reversal of the pressure gradient from a fundo-cervical to a cervico-fundal direction. These actions of oxytocin were accompanied by an increase in amplitude of potentials recorded by electrohysterography. These data support the view that uterus and Fallopian tubes represent a functional unit that is acting as a peristaltic pump and that the increasing activity of this pump during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle is reflected by an increased transport into the oviduct ipsilateral to the ovary bearing the dominant follicle. In addition, they strongly suggest a critical role of oxytocin in this process. Failure of this mechanism appears to be a cause of subfertility or infertility, as indicated by the low pregnancy rate following intrauterine insemination or normal intercourse in the presence of patent Fallopian tubes. It may be regarded as a new nosological entity for which we propose the term tubal transport disorder (TTD). Since pregnancy rate of such patients is normal when treated with in-vitro fertilization (IVF), hysterosalpingoscintigraphy seems to be useful for the choice of treatment modalities in patients with patent Fallopian tubes suffering from infertility. (+info)
Mechanical stimulation of starfish sperm flagella.
1. The responses of starfish sperm flagella to mechanical stimulation with a microneedle were analysed. Flagellar movement was recorded by high-speed microcinematography and by stroboscopic observation. 2. The amplitude of the bending wave of a flagellum was restricted over its entire length when the microneedle was brought near to the flagellum at its proximal region. Beyond the restricted part, the amplitude of the wave, and the bend angle, became smaller than those of a normally beating flagellum, while the curvature was practically unchanged. 3. When the tip of the microneedle was in contact with the flagellum, propagation of the bending wave beyond the microneedle was inhibited. The part of the flagellum between the base and the microneedle continued beating in some cases and stopped beating in other cases. The flagellum beyond the arrested part stopped beating and remained straight. When the microneedle was removed, the bending wave which existed in the part of the flagellum proximal to the microneedle, or the wave which was passively formed de novo at the time of the removal of the microneedle, propagated over the arrested part towards the tip. 4. A flagellum amputated by a microneedle in a medium containing ATP continued beating with a small amplitude, small curvature, small bend angle and low frequency. When the amputated flagellum was passively bent by a microneedle at the region near the point of amputation, this bend propagated towards the tip with a constant bend angle. 5. The beating frequency of the flagellum could be modulated by the application of a rhythmic external force generated by vibrating a microneedle near the flagellum. The beating was completely synchronized with vibration of the microneedle in the frequency range from 23 Hz to 43 Hz. (+info)
Incompetence of preovulatory mouse oocytes to undergo cortical granule exocytosis following induced calcium oscillations.
Immature oocytes of many species are incompetent to undergo cortical granule (CG) exocytosis upon fertilization. In mouse eggs, CG exocytosis is dependent primarily on an inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3)-mediated elevation of intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i). While deficiencies upstream of [Ca2+]i release are known, this study examined whether downstream deficiencies also contribute to the incompetence of preovulatory mouse oocytes to release CGs. The experimental strategy was to bypass upstream deficiencies by inducing normal, fertilization-like [Ca2+]i oscillations in fully grown, germinal vesicle (GV) stage oocytes and determine if the extent of CG exocytosis was restored to levels observed in mature, metaphase II (MII)-stage eggs. Because IP3 does not stimulate a normal Ca2+ response in GV-stage oocytes, three alternate methods were used to induce oscillations: thimerosal treatment, electroporation, and sperm factor injection. Long-lasting oscillations from thimerosal treatment resulted in 64 and 10% mean CG release at the MII and GV stages, respectively (P < 0.001). Three electrical pulses induced mean [Ca2+]i elevations of approximately 730 and 650 nM in MII- and GV-stage oocytes, respectively, and 31% CG release in MII-stage eggs and 9% in GV-stage oocytes (P < 0.001). Sperm factor microinjection resulted in 86% CG release in MII-stage eggs, while similarly treated GV-stage oocytes exhibited < 1% CG release (P < 0.001). Taken together, these results demonstrate a deficiency downstream of [Ca2+]i release which is developmentally regulated in the 12 h prior to ovulation. (+info)