Int. J. Dev. Biol. 52: 607 - 613 (2008)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.072554bn
© UPV/EHU Press

Ion channels that control fertility in mammalian spermatozoa

Betsy Navarro, Yuriy Kirichok, Jean-Ju Chung and David E. Clapham*

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Cardiology, Children's Hospital, Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Enders 1309, Children's Hospital Boston, 320 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA, USA

ABSTRACT Whole-cell voltage clamp of mammalian spermatozoa was first achieved in 2006. This technical advance, combined with genetic deletion strategies, makes unambiguous identification of sperm ion channel currents possible. This review summarizes the ion channel currents that have been directly measured in mammalian sperm, and their physiological roles in fertilization. The predominant currents are a Ca2+-selective current requiring expression of the 4 mCatSper genes, and a rectifying K+ current with properties most similar to mSlo3. Intracellular alkalinization activates both channels and induces hyperactivated motility.

Keywords:

CatSper, KSper, Ca2+, hyperactivated sperm motility, patch clamp, sperm, Ca2+ channel

*Corresponding author e-mail: dclapham@enders.tch.harvard.edu