Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Role of the Na+/K+-ATPase ion pump in male reproduction and embryo development

D. R. Câmara A C , J. P. Kastelic B and J. C. Thundathil B

A Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária, Universidade Federal de Alagoas, Fazenda São Luiz, s/n, Zona Rural do Município de Viçosa, Viçosa-AL, CEP: 57700-000, Brazil.

B Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Dr., NW, Calgary, AB T2N 4N1, Canada.

C Corresponding author. Email: diogo@vicosa.ufal.br

Reproduction, Fertility and Development - https://doi.org/10.1071/RD16091
Submitted: 24 February 2016  Accepted: 19 June 2016   Published online: 26 July 2016

Abstract

Na+/K+-ATPase was one of the first ion pumps studied because of its importance in maintaining osmotic and ionic balances between intracellular and extracellular environments, through the exchange of three Na+ ions out and two K+ ions into a cell. This enzyme, which comprises two main subunits (α and β), with or without an auxiliary polypeptide (γ), can have specific biochemical properties depending on the expression of associated isoforms (α1β1 and/or α2β1) in the cell. In addition to the importance of Na+/K+-ATPase in ensuring the function of many tissues (e.g. brain, heart and kidney), in the reproductive tract this protein is essential for embryo development because of its roles in blastocoel formation and embryo hatching. In the context of male reproduction, the discovery of a very specific subunit (α4), apparently restricted to male germ cells, only expressed after puberty and able to influence sperm function (e.g. motility and capacitation), opened a remarkable field for further investigations regarding sperm biology. Therefore, the present review focuses on the importance of Na+/K+-ATPase on male reproduction and embryo development.

Additional keywords: ion channel, P-type ATPase, sodium pump, spermatozoa.


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