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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Biochemistry - Biotechnology - Physiology - Urology

Identification of the Inorganic Pyrophosphate Metabolizing, ATP Substituting Pathway in Mammalian Spermatozoa
Published: Monday, April 02, 2012
Author: Young-Joo Yi et al.

by Young-Joo Yi, Miriam Sutovsky, Chelsey Kennedy, Peter Sutovsky

Inorganic pyrophosphate (PPi) is generated by ATP hydrolysis in the cells and also present in extracellular matrix, cartilage and bodily fluids. Fueling an alternative pathway for energy production in cells, PPi is hydrolyzed by inorganic pyrophosphatase (PPA1) in a highly exergonic reaction that can under certain conditions substitute for ATP-derived energy. Recombinant PPA1 is used for energy-regeneration in the cell-free systems used to study the zymology of ATP-dependent ubiquitin-proteasome system, including the role of sperm-borne proteasomes in mammalian fertilization. Inspired by an observation of reduced in vitro fertilization (IVF) rates in the presence of external, recombinant PPA1, this study reveals, for the first time, the presence of PPi, PPA1 and PPi transporter, progressive ankylosis protein ANKH in mammalian spermatozoa. Addition of PPi during porcine IVF increased fertilization rates significantly and in a dose-dependent manner. Fluorometric assay detected high levels of PPi in porcine seminal plasma, oviductal fluid and spermatozoa. Immunofluorescence detected PPA1 in the postacrosomal sheath (PAS) and connecting piece of boar spermatozoa; ANKH was present in the sperm head PAS and equatorial segment. Both ANKH and PPA1 were also detected in human and mouse spermatozoa, and in porcine spermatids. Higher proteasomal-proteolytic activity, indispensable for fertilization, was measured in spermatozoa preserved with PPi. The identification of an alternative, PPi dependent pathway for ATP production in spermatozoa elevates our understanding of sperm physiology and sets the stage for the improvement of semen extenders, storage media and IVF media for animal biotechnology and human assisted reproductive therapies.
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