Ca2+ bursts occur around a local minimal concentration of attractant and trigger sperm chemotactic response

Kogiku Shiba, Shoji A. Baba, Takafumi Inoue, Manabu Yoshida

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    Ca2+ is known to have important roles in sperm chemotaxis, although the relationship between intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) and modulation of the swimming and chemotactic behavior of spermatozoa has not been elucidated. Using a high-speed Ca 2+ imaging system, we examined the chemotactic behavior and [Ca 2+]i in individual ascidian sperm cells exhibiting chemotactic responses toward sperm activating and attracting factor (SAAF), a chemoattractant released by eggs. In this study, we found that transient [Ca2+]i increased in the flagellum (Ca2+ bursts) concomitantly with a change in the swimming direction in an SAAF gradient field. During the initial phase of the Ca2+ bursts, the flagellum of the spermatozoon exhibited highly asymmetric waveforms enabling the quick turning of the swimming path. However, the flagellum subsequently changed to symmetric beating, causing the spermatozoon to swim straight. Interestingly, during such responses, [Ca2+]i remained higher than the basal level, indicating that the series of responses was not simply determined by Ca2+ concentrations. Also, we found that Ca2+ bursts were consistently evoked at points at which the spermatozoon attained around a temporally minimal value for a given SAAF concentration. We concluded that Ca2+ bursts induced around a local minimal SAAF concentration trigger a sequence of flagellar responses comprising quick turning followed by straight swimming to direct spermatozoa efficiently toward eggs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19312-19317
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number49
    Publication statusPublished - 2008 Dec 9



    • Ascidian
    • Calcium
    • Chemotaxis
    • Fertilization
    • Flagella

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General

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