Induction of acrosomal reaction and calcium uptake in ram spermatozoa by ionophores

Pazit Ben-Av, Sara Rubinstein, Haim Breitbart

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21 Scopus citations


Ram spermatozoa incubated in the presence of Ca2+ and the Ca2+-ionophore A23187 undergo a process which is known as the acrosome reaction. This reaction is characterized by fusion of the outer acrosomal membrane and the overlying plasma membrane to form mixed vesicles which can be seen in the electron microscope. As a result, the trypsin-like acrosin is released from the cells to the medium. The occurrence of the acrosome reaction was determined by following acrosin activity in the medium. After 2 h of incubation of the cells in the presence of ionophore and Ca2+, the released acrosin activity is related to the ionophores according to the sequence: A23187 > monensin > valinomycin > FCCP = without ionophore. The study of Ca2+ uptake by the cells revealed that C2+ enters the cell prior to the release of acrosin. Monensin can indcue Ca2+ and acrosin release only when Na+ is present in the incubation medium. There is no increase in Ca2+ uptake with carbonyl cyanide p-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone (FCCP). We suggest that the Na+ H+ exchange induced by monensin causes an increase in intracellular Na which is the driving force for the Ca2+ entry via a Ca2+ Na+ antiporter. Since monensin can induce an increase in Ca2+ uptake only in the presence of Na+, FCCP enhances Ca2+ uptake in the presence of valinomycin, and A23187 is a Ca2+ 2H+ exchanger, we suggest that alkalization of the intracellular space is involved in the acrosome reaction. Calcium uptake in the presence of monensin is not affected by the uncoupler FCCP, a result which indicates that Ca2+ is not accumulated in the mitochondria. Incubation of cells for 3 h in the absence of Ca2+ or ionophore caused a 3-fold increase in the rate of acrosin release when monensin and Ca2+ were added together. There was no change in this rate when A23187 was used. We suggest that during the preincubation time (known as capacitation) the permeability of the plasma membrane to Ca2+ is enhanced. This study shows that acrosin release and Ca2+ uptake can be used as a quantitative asay for the determination of the acrosome reaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-222
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - 7 Apr 1988


  • (Ram sperm cell)
  • Acrosin
  • Calcium transport
  • Electron microscopy
  • Ionophore


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