CatSper channels are regulated by protein kinase A

Gerardo Orta, José Luis De La Vega-Beltran, X. David Martín-Hidalgo, Celia M. Santi, Pablo E. Visconti, X. Alberto Darszon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Mammalian sperm must undergo capacitation as a preparation for entering into hyperactivated motility, undergoing the acrosome reaction, and acquiring fertilizing ability. One of the initial capacitation events occurs when sperm encounter an elevated HCO3- concentration. This anion activates the atypical adenylyl cyclase Adcy10, increases intracellular cAMP, and stimulates protein kinase A (PKA). Moreover, an increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) is essential for sperm capacitation. Although a cross-talk between cAMP-dependent pathways and Ca2+ clearly plays an essential role in sperm capacitation, the connection between these signaling events is incompletely understood. Here, using three different approaches, we found that CatSper, the main sperm Ca2+ channel characterized to date, is up-regulated by a cAMP-dependent activation of PKA in mouse sperm. First, HCO3- and the PKA-activating permeable compound 8-Br-cAMP induced an increase in [Ca2+]i, which was blocked by the PKA peptide inhibitor PKI, and H89, another PKA inhibitor, also abrogated the 8-Br-cAMP response. Second, HCO3- increased the membrane depolarization induced upon divalent cation removal by promoting influx of monovalent cations through CatSper channels, which was inhibited by PKI, H89, and the CatSper blocker HC-056456. Third, electrophysiological patch clamp, wholecell recordings revealed that CatSper activity is up-regulated by HCO3- and by direct cAMP injection through the patch-clamp pipette. The activation by HCO3- and cAMP was also blocked by PKI, H89, Rp-cAMPS, and HC-056456, and electrophysiological recordings in sperm from CatSper-KO mice confirmed CatSper's role in these activation modes. Our results strongly suggest that PKA-dependent phosphorylation regulates [Ca2+]i homeostasis by activating CatSper channel complexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16830-16841
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 26 2019


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