The Effects of Increased Testicular Temperature on Testis-Specific Isoform of Na+/K+-ATPase in Sperm and its Role in Spermatogenesis and Sperm Function

Authors

  • JC Thundathil,

    1. Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
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  • GD Rajamanickam,

    1. Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
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  • JP Kastelic,

    1. Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
    2. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, Lethbridge, AB, Canada
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  • LD Newton

    1. Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
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Author’s address (for correspondence): JC Thundathil, Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada. E-mail: jthundat@ucalgary.ca

Contents

Impaired testicular thermoregulation is commonly implicated in abnormal spermatogenesis and impaired sperm function in animals and humans, with outcomes ranging from subclinical infertility to sterility. Bovine testes must be maintained 4–5°C below body-core temperature for normal spermatogenesis. The effects of elevated testicular temperature have been extensively studied in cattle using a scrotal insulation model, which results in abnormal spermatogenesis and impaired sperm morphology and function. Using this model and proteomic approaches, we compared normal and abnormal sperm (from the same bulls) to elucidate the molecular basis of impaired function. We identified a cohort of sperm functional proteins differentially expressed between normal vs abnormal sperm, including a testis-specific isoform of Na+/K+-ATPase. In addition to its role as a sodium pump regulating sperm motility, Na+/K+-ATPase is also involved as a signalling molecule during sperm capacitation. In conclusion, because of its involvement in regulation of sperm function, this protein has potential as a fertility marker. Furthermore, comparing normal vs abnormal sperm (induced by scrotal insulation) is a useful model for identifying proteins regulating sperm function.

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