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

Thiols of flagellar proteins are essential for progressive motility in human spermatozoa

María Eugenia Cabrillana A B , María de los Ángeles Monclus A B , Tania Estefania Sáez Lancellotti A B , Paola Vanina Boarelli A B , Amanda Edith Vincenti A , Miguel Matias Fornés C , Eduardo Alfredo Sanabria D and Miguel Walter Fornés A B E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Andrologic Research Laboratory of Mendoza (LIAM), Histology and Embryology Institute of Mendoza (IHEM), Histology and Embryology Area, Department of Morphology and Physiology, School of Medicine, National University of Cuyo and CCT-Mendoza, CONICET, Mendoza, Argentina.

B Research Institute, School of Medicine, University of Aconcagua, Mendoza, Argentina.

C Engineering School, University of Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina.

D Basic Science Institute, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, Av. Ignacio de la Roza 590 (O), Complejo Universitario “Islas Malvinas”, Rivadavia, National University of San Juan and CCT-CONICET, San Juan, Argentina.

E Corresponding author. Email: mfornes@fcm.uncu.edu.ar

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 29(7) 1435-1446 https://doi.org/10.1071/RD16225
Submitted: 27 November 2015  Accepted: 4 June 2016   Published: 1 July 2016

Abstract

Male infertility is a disorder of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. The presence of low-motile or immotile spermatozoa is one of many causes of infertility; however, this observation provides little or no information regarding the pathogenesis of the malfunction. Good sperm motility depends on correct assembly of the sperm tail in the testis and efficient maturation during epididymal transit. Thiols of flagellar proteins, such as outer dense fibre protein 1 (ODF1), are oxidised to form disulfides during epididymal transit and the spermatozoa become motile. This study was designed to determine how oxidative changes in protein thiol status affect progressive motility in human spermatozoa. Monobromobimane (mBBr) was used as a specific thiol marker and disruptor of sperm progressive motility. When mBBr was blocked by dithiothreitol it did not promote motility changes. The analysis of mBBr-treated spermatozoa revealed a reduction of progressive motility and an increased number of spermatozoa with non-progressive motility without affecting ATP production. Laser confocal microscopy and western blot analysis showed that one of the mBBr-positive proteins reacted with an antibody to ODF1. Monobromobimane fluorescence intensity of the sperm tail was lower in normozoospermic than asthenozoospermic men, suggesting that thiol oxidation in spermatozoa of asthenozoospermic men is incomplete. Our findings indicate that mBBr affects the thiol status of ODF1 in human spermatozoa and interferes with progressive motility.

Additional keywords: cytoskeleton, epididymus, fertility.


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