Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors selectively localized to the acrosomes of mammalian sperm

Loren D. Walensky, Solomon H. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


Calcium flux is required for the mammalian sperm acrosome reaction, an exocytotic event triggered by egg binding, which results in a dramatic rise in sperm intracellular calcium. Calcium-dependent membrane fusion results in the release of enzymes that facilitate sperm penetration through the zona pellucida during fertilization. We have characterized inositol 1,4,5- trisphosphate (IP3)-gated calcium channels and upstream components of the phosphoinositide signaling system in mammalian sperm. Peptide antibodies colocalized G{aq/11) and the β1 isoform of phospholipase C (PLCβ1) to the anterior acrosomal region of mouse sperm. Western blotting using a polyclonal antibody directed against purified brain IP3 receptor (IP3R) identified a specific 260 kD band in 1% Triton X-100 extracts of rat, hamster, mouse and dog sperm. In each species, IP3R immunostaining localized to the acrosome cap. Scatchard analysis of [3H]IP3 binding to rat sperm sonicates revealed a curvilinear plot with high affinity (K(d) = 26 nM, B(max) = 30 pmol/mg) and low affinity (K(d) = 1.6 μM,B(max) = 550 pmol/mg) binding sites, reflecting among the highest receptor densities in mammalian tissue. Immunoelectron microscopy confirmed the acrosomal localization in rat sperm. The IP3R fractionated with acrosomes by discontinuous sucrose gradient centrifugation and was enriched in the medium of acrosome-reacted sperm. ATP-dependent 45Ca2+ loading of digitonin permeabilized rat sperm was decreased by 45 % in the presence of 10 μM IP3. The IP3-mediated release of calcium was blocked by heparin. Thapsigargin, a sequiterpene lactone inhibitor of the microsomal Ca2+-ATPase, stimulated the acrosome reaction of mouse sperm to the same extent as the Ca2+ ionophore, A23187. The failure of caffeine and ryanodine to affect calcium accumulation suggested that thapsigargin acted through an IP3-sensitive store. The presence of G(αq/11), PLCβ1 and a functional IP3R in the anterior acrosomal region of mammalian sperm, as well as thapsigargin's induction of the acrosome reaction, implicate IP3-gated calcium release in the mammalian acrosome reaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-869
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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