The sperm reservoir in the caudal isthmus of the oviduct of a number of species is created by binding of spermatozoa to oviductal epithelium. The sperm reservoir fulfills a number of functions such as control of sperm transport, maintenance of sperm viability and modulation of capacitation. The initial capacities of ejaculated and epididymal boar spermatozoa to bind to oviductal epithelium were investigated using a modified pig oviductal explant assay. The number of spermatozoa that bound to 0.01 mm(2) of explant surface was used as the parameter of binding capacity. Binding of spermatozoa to oviductal epithelial explants was dependent in a linear manner on the number of spermatozoa added (P < or = 0.05). No difference was found in initial sperm binding between isthmic and ampullar explants. There was no effect of the stage of the oestrous cycle or the reproductive status of the female donor. There was a significant effect (P < or = 0.05) of the individual boar on the binding index. The binding index correlated negatively with the percentage of spermatozoa with cytoplasmic droplets and the percentage of morphologically abnormal spermatozoa (P < or = 0.05). Epididymal spermatozoa showed significantly lower initial binding capability than did ejaculated spermatozoa from the same boars (P < or = 0.05); therefore, components of seminal plasma may play a role in the binding process. The individual differences revealed by this study and their relation to morphology and contact of spermatozoa with seminal fluid indicate a selective function of sperm-oviduct binding.
AM Petrunkina, R Gehlhaar, W Drommer, D Waberski and E Topfer-Petersen
AM Petrunkina, RA Harrison, M Hebel, KF Weitze and E Topfer-Petersen
The ability to reverse swelling caused by hypo-osmotic stress is an important cell function; in spermatozoa, it is likely to be of consequence during ejaculation and also during the thawing process that terminates cryopreservation. In this study, the time course of boar and bull sperm volume changes after exposure to hypo-osmotic conditions at 39 degrees C was recorded. Cell volume measurements of washed sperm suspensions were performed electronically in Hepes-buffered saline solutions of 300 and 180 mosmol kg(-1) containing 2.5 mmol K(+) l(-1). Treatment with quinine in the presence or absence of the potassium ionophore valinomycin was used to determine whether potassium channels were involved in the reversal of swelling. After exposure to hypo-osmotic conditions, both bull and boar spermatozoa showed initial swelling (up to 200% and 140% of initial volume, respectively, within 5 min), which was subsequently partially reversed (to about 150% and 120%, respectively, after 20 min). Incubation with quinine led to an increase in swelling in both species. However, bull sperm volume was already maximal (up to 294%) after 30 s and declined thereafter, whereas boar sperm volume increased slowly to a maximum of about 220% after 20 min. Valinomycin treatment caused quinine-induced swelling in bull spermatozoa to decrease rapidly to control (no quinine, no valinomycin) values, whereas in quinine-treated boar spermatozoa it had an opposite, enhancing effect. Interpreting these results in the light of data from studies by others on a variety of cell types, it is proposed that swelling-activated potassium channels are involved in regulatory volume decrease in both species of spermatozoa, but that boar spermatozoa may contain fewer swelling-activated chloride channels than do bull spermatozoa.
AM Petrunkina, J Friedrich, W Drommer, G Bicker, D Waberski and E Topfer-Petersen
On reaching the oviduct, spermatozoa are retained in the isthmic region of the oviduct until ovulation occurs. The essential steps of capacitation are co-ordinated in this region. In this study, a primary cell culture system of oviductal epithelial cells was established to investigate sperm binding to oviductal epithelium and modulation of sperm function during incubation under capacitating conditions in co-culture with oviductal epithelial cells. Epithelial cells were stripped from the oviducts of sows and cultivated for 5-7 days on Lab-Tek Chamber slides on Matrigel. The preparations on chamber slides and suspensions of control spermatozoa were incubated for 3 h in Tyrode's albumin lactate pyruvate (TALP) medium. At 3, 30, 60, 90 and 180 min the free-swimming spermatozoa were collected by washing, and membrane integrity, tyrosine phosphorylation patterns and [Ca(2+)](i) of bound, unbound and control spermatozoa were assessed with fluorescent probes (propidium iodide, Cy-3 and fluo-3-AM). The cells bound to oviductal epithelial cells showed reduced cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration, reduced and almost absent tyrosine phosphorylation of membrane proteins and higher viability at the time of the first sampling. Increases in Ca(2+) concentration and cell death occurred much more slowly during incubation in cells bound to oviductal epithelial cells compared with free-swimming spermatozoa, and no changes in tyrosine phosphorylation were observed. The preferential binding of viable, low-Ca(2+) cells with suppressed tyrosine phosphorylation and slower functional modulation of boar spermatozoa attached to oviductal epithelial cells might represent a mechanism for selecting functionally competent spermatozoa and prolonging their lifespan by delaying capacitation in the oviductal reservoir.
AM Petrunkina, A Lakamp, M Gentzel, M Ekhlasi-Hundrieser and E Topfer-Petersen
Polyclonal avian antibody was used partially to characterize the pig sperm lactadherin P47. P47 is a mosaic protein, composed of two epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like domains and two C1/C2 domains. P47 is homologous to the bovine mammary gland protein MGP 53/57 and mouse milk fat globule protein. Expression of P47 along the male genital tract and its localization on spermatozoa during post-testicular maturation and capacitation were studied. P47 was detected in the testis and in all parts of the epididymis by immunohistochemistry and by western blots of tissue extracts. By indirect immunocytochemistry, P47 was localized at the apical ridge of the sperm head in testicular, epididymal and ejaculated spermatozoa. The fluorescence intensity progressed during sperm transit from caput to cauda epididymis, probably caused by the ongoing expression and subsequent accumulation of P47 on the sperm surface. During the time course of capacitation, P47 appears to be unmasked by the release of coating proteins and appears to migrate from the apical ridge onto the entire acrosomal region, showing an intensive fluorescence pattern after 3 h capacitation in vitro. The kinetics of signal changes during in vitro capacitation were different in epididymal and ejaculated spermatozoa, indicating accelerated capacitational plasma membrane destabilization in epididymal spermatozoa.