Chapter

Sperm Acrosome Biogenesis and Function During Fertilization

Volume 220 of the series Advances in Anatomy, Embryology and Cell Biology pp 93-106

Date:

Sperm Capacitation and Acrosome Reaction in Mammalian Sperm

  • Cintia StivalAffiliated withInstituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario (CONICET-UNR) and Laboratorio de Especialidades Reproductivas (Facultad de Ciencias Bioquímicas y Farmacéuticas (UNR)
  • , Lis del C. Puga MolinaAffiliated withInstituto de Biología y Medicina Experimental (IBYME), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)
  • , Bidur PaudelAffiliated withDepartment of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, ISB, University of Massachusetts
  • , Mariano G. BuffoneAffiliated withInstituto de Biología y Medicina Experimental (IBYME), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)
  • , Pablo E. ViscontiAffiliated withDepartment of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, ISB, University of Massachusetts
  • , Dario KrapfAffiliated withInstituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario (CONICET-UNR) and Laboratorio de Especialidades Reproductivas (Facultad de Ciencias Bioquímicas y Farmacéuticas (UNR) Email author 

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Abstract

Physiological changes that endow mammalian sperm with fertilizing capacity are known as sperm capacitation. As part of capacitation, sperm develop an asymmetrical flagellar beating known as hyperactivation and acquire the ability to undergo the acrosome reaction. Together, these processes promote fertilizing competence in sperm. At the molecular level, capacitation involves a series of signal transduction events which include activation of cAMP-dependent phosphorylation pathways, removal of cholesterol, hyperpolarization of the sperm plasma membrane, and changes in ion permeability. In recent years, new technologies have aided in the study of sperm signaling molecules with better resolution, at both spatial and temporal levels, unraveling how different cascades integrate and cooperate to render a fertilizing sperm. Despite this new information, the molecular mechanisms connecting capacitation with acrosomal exocytosis and hyperactivation are not well understood. This review brings together results obtained in mammalian species in the field of sperm capacitation with special focus on those pathways involved in the preparation to undergo the acrosomal reaction.