Mammalian spermatozoa should reside in the female reproductive tract for a certain time before gaining the ability to fertilize. During this time, the spermatozoa undergo a series of biochemical processes collectively called capacitation. We recently demonstrated that actin polymerization is a necessary step in the cascade leading to capacitation. We demonstrate here for the first time a role for phospholipase D (PLD) in the induction of actin polymerization and capacitation in spermatozoa. The involvement of PLD is supported by specific inhibition of F-actin formation during sperm capacitation by PLD inhibitors and the stimulation of fast F-actin formation by exogenous PLD or phosphatidic acid (PA). Moreover, PLD activity is enhanced during capacitation before actin polymerization. Protein kinase A (PKA), known to be active in sperm capacitation, and protein kinase C (PKC), involved in the acrosome reaction, can both activate PLD and actin polymerization. We suggest that PKA- and PKC-dependent signal transduction pathways can potentially lead to PLD activation; however, under physiological conditions, actin polymerization depends primarily on PKA activity. Activation of PKA during capacitation causes inactivation of phospholipase C, and as a result, PKC activation is prevented. It appears that PKA activation promotes sperm capacitation whereas early activation of PKC during capacitation would jeopardize this process.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported in part by the Ihel Foundation.