Activation of Sperm EGFR by Light Irradiation is Mediated by Reactive Oxygen Species

Shiran Shahar, Pnina Hillman, Rachel Lubart, Debby Ickowicz, Haim Breitbart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


To acquire fertilization competence, spermatozoa must undergo several biochemical and motility changes in the female reproductive tract, collectively called capacitation. Actin polymerization and the development of hyperactivated motility (HAM) are part of the capacitation process. In a recent study, we showed that irradiation of human sperm with visible light stimulates HAM through a mechanism involving reactive-oxygen-species (ROS), Ca2+ influx, protein kinases A (PKA), and sarcoma protein kinase (Src). Here, we showed that this effect of light on HAM is mediated by ROS-dependent activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Interestingly, ROS-mediated HAM even when the EGFR was activated by EGF, the physiological ligand of EGFR. Light irradiation stimulated ROS-dependent actin polymerization, and this effect was abrogated by PBP10, a peptide which activates the actin-severing protein, gelsolin, and causes actin-depolymerization in human sperm. Light-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of Src-dependent gelsolin, resulting in enhanced HAM. Thus, light irradiation stimulates HAM through a mechanism involving Src-mediated actin polymerization. Light-stimulated HAM and in vitro-fertilization (IVF) rate in mouse sperm, and these effects were mediated by ROS and EGFR. In conclusion, we show here that irradiation of sperm with visible light, enhances their fertilization capacity via a mechanism requiring ROS, EGFR and HAM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1077-1083
Number of pages7
JournalPhotochemistry and Photobiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014

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© 2014 The American Society of Photobiology.


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