Molecular Analysis Of Hamster Sperm Capacitation: Significance Of Protein Tyrosine Phosphorylation
Naveen, Daniel M
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Fertilization is a process that generates the first cell of a new organism. In mammals, fertilization occurs in the female reproductive tract. The male gametes (spermatozoa) are rendered fertilization-competent only after they undergo capacitation and acrosome reaction (AR). The set of physiological changes, characterised by the acquisition of hyperactivated motility, that render the spermatozoa fertilization competent is known as capacitation. Using in vitro models, the complex intracellular signaling events mediating this process are still being understood. This thesis explores the role of protein tyrosine phosphorylation during capacitation using the golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) spermatozoa. The knowledge about the molecular components involved in capacitation, apart from enriching our understanding about a basic cellular process could also provide leads in the management of male (in)fertility. A comprehensive review on the perspectives of male reproduction, spermatogenesis, the structural features of a spermatozoon and sperm maturation, relevant to the content of the thesis is provided in Chapter-1 (General Introduction). Molecular mediators that initiate capacitation include cAMP, Ca2+and HCO3- ions. These signalling molecules regulate activities of protein kinases and phosphatases, which control the level of protein phosphorylation in spermatozoa. Capacitation-associated increase in protein phosphorylation, specifically protein tyrosine phosphorylation (PYP) has been demonstrated in a few species such as mouse, rat and human. The unique nature of PYP signaling during sperm capacitation has been exemplified by discoveries of several male germ cell-specific signalling molecules like soluble adenylate cyclase. However,molecular identities of tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins and their functional role during sperm capacitation are yet to be investigated in detail. In this context, the effect of modulating intracellular levels of signaling molecules upstream of protein phosphorylation was sought using pentoxifylline (PF), a cAMP phosphodiesterase inhibitor. Interestingly, PF-induced capacitation was associated with an early induction of tyrosine phosphorylation of proteins (45-80 kDa) localized to the mid piece of the sperm tail. Interestingly, the ultrastructural localization of tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins in the sperm tail by immunoelectron microscopy (IEM) revealed most intense immunolabelling in the fibrous sheath, followed by outer dense fibers (ODFs)and the axoneme. Data pertaining to the effect of PF on sperm capacitation and the associated protein-phosphorylation is presented in Chapter-2. Since PYP was determined to be extremely critical for hyperactivation in spermatozoa, the involvement of protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs) in this process was assessed using a specific PTK inhibitor, tyrphostin A47 (TP-47: EGFR-TK specific). The third chapter deals with the effect of tyrphostins on sperm capacitation and PYP. A dose-dependent inhibition by TP-47 of capacitation and principal piece associated-PYP of ~45-60 kDa proteins was observed. Interestingly, TP-47 treated-spermatozoa exhibited a circular motility pattern; when assessed for kinematic parameters, by computer aided sperm analysis, sperm showed lower values for key kinematic parameters as compared to the controls. While sperm viability in TP-47- treated samples was not affected, the ATP content reduced towards latter (4-5 h) part of culture as compared to the controls. When spermatozoa were treated with two other PTK inhibitors, tyrphostin AG1478 (EGFR-TK specific) and tyrphostin AG1296 (PDGFR-TK specific), they did not show any changes in kinematic parameters or PYP, indicating that the TP-47-effect was compound-specific. The fourth chapter of this thesis involves the molecular analysis of proteins hypo-tyrosine phosphorylated in the presence of TP-47, which started with the enrichment of sperm flagellar proteins that are tyrosine phosphorylated during capacitation, using various detergents. Detergent extractions established that most tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins were non-membranous in nature, which complemented the IEM data. Therefore, phosphoproteome analysis of the untreated and TP-47-treated sperm samples was performed. For this, protein extracts were subjected to 2D-PAGE-phosphotyrosine immunoblots. A 51 kDa spot and two 45 kDa spots, corresponding to the hypo-tyrosine phosphorylated spots, were analyzed by MS/MS. While peptides from the 51 kDa protein matched with tektin-2 (a microtubular protein), those of the 45 kDa spots matched with ODF-2 protein of the sperm flagellum. Validation of the presence of tektin-2 and ODF-2 protein and their tyrosine-phosphorylated forms on sperm capacitation in the hamster spermatozoa has also been performed. In addition to detailing the role of PYP in hamster sperm capacitation, this study revealed the identities of a few of these proteins, whose tyrosine phosphorylated status could be critical for optimal sperm flagellar bending, required for sperm hyperactivation. By understanding causes that lead to altered sperm function, for example, as observed with hamster spermatozoa, new insights could be achieved into molecular regulatory mechanisms that govern sperm function in clinical cases of non-obstructive male infertility in the human.
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