Protein kinase A inhibition induces EPAC-dependent acrosomal exocytosis in human sperm

Diana Itzhakov, Yeshayahu Nitzan, Haim Breitbart

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9 Scopus citations


To interact with the egg, the spermatozoon must undergo several biochemical and motility modifications in the female reproductive tract, collectively called capacitation. Only capacitated sperm can undergo acrosomal exocytosis, near or on the egg, a process that allows the sperm to penetrate and fertilize the egg. In the present study, we investigated the involvement of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent processes on acrosomal exocytosis. Inhibition of protein kinase A (PKA) at the end of capacitation induced acrosomal exocytosis. This process is cAMP-dependent; however, the addition of relatively high concentration of the membrane-permeable 8-bromo-cAMP (8Br-cAMP, 0.1 mmol l-1) analog induced significant inhibition of the acrosomal exocytosis. The induction of acrosomal exocytosis by PKA inhibition was significantly inhibited by an exchange protein directly activated by cAMP (EPAC) ESI09 inhibitor. The EPAC selective substrate activated AE at relatively low concentrations (0.02-0.1 μmol l-1), whereas higher concentrations (>5 μmol l-1) were inhibitory to the AE induced by PKA inhibition. Inhibition of PKA revealed about 50% increase in intracellular cAMP levels, conditions under which EPAC can be activated to induce the AE. Induction of AE by activating the actin severing-protein, gelsolin, which causes F-actin dispersion, was inhibited by the EPAC inhibitor. The AE induced by PKA inhibition was mediated by phospholipase C activity but not by the Ca2+-channel, CatSper. Thus, inhibition of PKA at the end of the capacitation process induced EPAC/phospholipase C-dependent acrosomal exocytosis. EPAC mediates F-actin depolymerization and/or activation of effectors downstream to F-actin breakdown that lead to acrosomal exocytosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-344
Number of pages8
JournalAsian Journal of Andrology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2019

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  • acrosomal exocytosis
  • exchange protein directly activated by cyclic adenosine monophosphate
  • protein kinase A
  • sperm


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