Importance of mammalian sperm metalloendoprotease activity during the acrosome reaction to subsequent sperm-egg fusion: Inhibitor studies with human sperm and zona-free hamster eggs

Authors

  • Dr. Eneida Díaz-Pérez,

    1. Department of Cell Bilogy and Human Anatomy, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, California
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Biology, Cayey University College, University of Puerto Rico, Cayey, PR 00633
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  • Dr. Stanley Meizel

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Cell Bilogy and Human Anatomy, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, California
    • Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8643
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Abstract

We have previously shown that each of the metalloendoprotease (MEP) inhibitors phosphoramidon, diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid, and carbobenzoxy-L-phenlalanine, when present only during the human sperm acrosome reaction (AR), will not inhibit the AR or sperm motility but will decrease the number of sperm that penetrate zona-free hamster eggs. The present study was designed to investigate whether this inhibition of penetration is due to an effect on sperm binding to the egg plasma membrane and/or to an effect on the actual membrane fusion event. In these studies we used ionomycin to initiate the AR and assayed binding in a Ca2+-free medium and fusion in Ca2+-containing medium in the same experiment. Eggs were loaded with the fluorescent dye Hoechst 33342, and the appearance of fluorescence in a sperm head indicated that fusion had occurred. The three MEP inhibitors reduced binding only slightly but inhibited the actual fusion step by 50–60% (determined with an equation that corrected for any inhibition of fusion due to inhibition of binding). MEP inhibitors present only during gamete interactions had little or no effect on fusion. We also found that phosphoramidon-inhibitable MEP activity was released during the ionomycin-initiated AR. Incubation of AR supernatant containing MEP activity with previously acrosome-reacted, phosphoramidon-treated sperm resulted in a large reversal of the phosphoramidon-inhibitory effect on sperm-egg fusion. These results support the hypothesis that the acrosomal phosphoramidon-inhibitable MEP released during the AR acts directly or indirectly during that event to increase the fusibility of the sperm plasma membrane region required for subsequent sperm-egg fusion.

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