This study tested the hypothesis that sperm sialic acid (Sia) is required to reach the site of fertilization, and that successful fertilization requires recognition of Sia from both the sperm and oocyte to occur. In addition, it has recently been reported that Siglecs (Sia-binding-immunoglobulin-like lectins) are present on the sperm surface. Thus, the possibility that the recognition of oocyte Sia was sperm-Siglec-mediated was also addressed. Sperm exposed to neuraminidase (NMase) exhibited lower overall and progressive motility, which translated to a decreased ability to swim through cervical mucus from cows in oestrus. In addition, when either sperm or cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) were treated with NMase, a decrease in cleavage and blastocyst rate was observed. However, incubation of sperm with increasing concentrations of anti-Siglec-2, -5, -6 and -10 antibodies prior to fertilization had no effect on their fertilizing ability. Interestingly, treatment with NMase increased the number of sperm bound to the ZP but also the rate of polyspermic fertilization. Flow cytometry analysis revealed no differences in the percentage of capacitated or acrosome-reacted sperm. These results suggest that Sia are required to reach the site of fertilization but need to be removed for sperm–oocyte interaction. However, fine regulation is needed to avoid abnormal fertilization which can lead to impaired embryo development.
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B Fernandez-Fuertes, A Blanco-Fernandez, C J Reid, K G Meade, S Fair, and P Lonergan
K Alkhodair, H Almhanna, J McGetrick, S Gedair, M E Gallagher, B Fernandez-Fuertes, T Tharmalingam, P B Larsen, E Fitzpatrick, P Lonergan, A C O Evans, S D Carrington, and C J Reid
Sialic acid (Sia) is a major constituent of both the sperm glycocalyx and female reproductive mucosal surface and is involved in regulating sperm migration, uterotubal reservoir formation and oocyte binding. Siglecs (sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin – like lectins) commonly found on immune cells, bind to Sia in a linkage- and sugar-specific manner and often mediate cell-to-cell interactions and signalling. Proteomic and transcriptomic analysis of human and bovine sperm have listed Siglecs, but to date, their presence and/or localisation on sperm has not been studied. Therefore, the aim of this study was to characterise the presence of Siglecs on the surface of bovine, human and ovine sperm using both immunostaining and Western blotting. Siglec 1, 2, 5, 6, 10 and 14 were identified and displayed both species- and regional-specific expression on sperm. Almost universal expression across Siglecs and species was evident in the sperm neck and midpiece region while variable expression among Siglecs, similar among species, was detected in the head and tail regions of the sperm. The possible role for these proteins on sperm is discussed.