Regulation of calcium transport in bovine spermatozoa

Haim Breitbart, Robert Wehbie, Henry Lardy

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21 Scopus citations


Calcium uptake into bovine epididymal spermatozoa is enhanced by introducing phosphate in the suspending medium (Babcock et al. (1975) J. Biol. Chem. 250, 6488-6495). This effect of phosphate is found even at a low extracellular Ca2+ concentrations (i.e., 5 μM) suggesting that phosphate is involved in calcium transport via the plasma membrane. Bicarbonate (2 mM) cannot substitute for phosphate, and a relatively high bicarbonate concentration (20 mM) causes partial inhibition of calcium uptake in absence of Pi. In the presence of 1-2 mM phosphate, 20 mM bicarbonate enhances Ca2+ uptake. The data indicate that the plasma membrane of bovine spermatozoa contains two carriers for Ca2+ transport: a phosphate-independent Ca2+ carrier that is stimulated by bicarbonate and a phosphate-dependent Ca2+ carrier that is inhibited by bicarbonate. Higher phosphate concentrations (i.e., 10 mM) inhibit Ca2+ uptake into intact cells (compared to 1.0 mM phosphate) and this inhibition can be relieved partially by 20 mM bicarbonate. This effect of bicarbonate is inhibited by mersalyl. Calcium uptake into the cells is enhanced by adding exogenous substrates to the medium. There is no correlation between ATP levels in the cells and Ca2+ transport into the cell. ATP levels are high even without added exogenous substrate and this ATP level is almost completely reduced by oligomycin, suggesting that ATP can be synthesized in the mitochondria in the absence of exogenous substrate. Calcium transport into the sperm mitochondria (washed filipin-treated cells) is absolutely dependent upon the presence of phosphate and mitochondrial substrate. Bicarbonate cannot support Ca2+ transport into sperm mitochondria. There is good correlation between Ca2+ uptake into intact epididymal sperm and into sperm mitochondria with the various substrates used. This indicates that the rate of calcium transport into the cells is determined by the rate of mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake and respiration with the various substrates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-78
Number of pages7
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Aug 1990

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grant AM10334 from the National Institutes of Health.


  • (Bovine spermatozoa)
  • Calcium transport


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