Immunolocalization of multiple Galpha subunits in mammalian spermatozoa and additional evidence for Galphas.

Research paper by Rhona W RW Baxendale, Lynn R LR Fraser

Indexed on: 27 Mar '03Published on: 27 Mar '03Published in: Molecular Reproduction and Development


Like somatic cells, mammalian spermatozoa appear to contain several different heterotrimeric G protein alpha-subunits that could mediate specialized cell responses. However, the precise Galpha subunits present, their subcellular location and their possible roles are still incompletely defined. In this study, using commercially available specific antibodies, we have shown by immunoblotting that Galpha(s) is present in human and mouse sperm lysates. Immunolocalization using intact spermatozoa from both species revealed this protein to be in the acrosomal cap region and the flagellum, particularly the principal piece. Treatment of permeabilized mouse spermatozoa with cholera toxin led to enhanced ADP-ribosylation of a protein the same size as Galpha(s), as well as an increase in cAMP, providing further proof for Galpha(s). Evidence for the presence and distinct localizations of Galpha(i2), Galpha(i3), Galpha(o), Galpha(q/11), and Galpha(olf) was also obtained. Of particular interest was Galpha(i2) which, like Galpha(s), was present in the acrosomal cap region and flagellum, the same regions where stimulatory and inhibitory adenosine receptors are localized. These observations are consistent with our hypothesis that G proteins mediate adenosine receptor modulation of adenylyl cyclase, with consequent alterations in cAMP production, apparently crucial for the spermatozoon's acquisition and maintenance of fertilizing ability.