The plasma membrane over the sperm head of several mammalian species has been shown to express a glycerolphosphatidylinositol-linked hyaluronidase known as PH-20. This protein has been associated with the sperm's interaction with the oocyte cumulus matrix and zona pellucida. The characteristics of PH-20 in equine sperm have not been clearly defined. In this study, ejaculated gel-free semen from five stallions and epididymal sperm from isolated epididymis from 10 stallions was used to characterize the PH-20 activity in equine sperm. Affinity purified anti-equine PH-20 polyclonal antibody was used to immunodetect sperm surface-associated PH-20 and immunolabel whole sperm. The intracellular calcium indicator, Fluo-3, was used to assess sperm intracellular calcium. Stallion sperm express a surface-associated hyaluronidase localized to the posterior sperm head region in ejaculated sperm. Following in vitro capacitation and acrosomal exocytosis, the inner acrosomal membrane (lAM) displays intense hyaluronidase fluorescence suggesting that the IAM and hyaluronidase plays a significant role in zona penetration by sperm. Sperm incubated in hyaluronan (HA)-containing capacitation medium display an elevated intracellular calcium concentration (P < 0.01) that is associated with translocation of PH-20 antigenic sites on the sperm surface in addition to increases in protein tyrosine phosphorylation. Caput- and cauda-derived sperm display developmentally unique PH-20 immunofluorescence expression patterns. These data suggest that the differential expression of PH-20 in ejaculated and epididymal sperm could be involved in cumulus penetration, sperm-egg recognition, and oolemmal fusion in this species.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology