FEBS letters

Single cell imaging reveals that the motility regulator speract induces a flagellar alkalinization that precedes and is independent of Ca²⁺ influx in sea urchin spermatozoa.

PMID 26143372


Speract, a peptide from the egg jelly coat of certain sea urchin species, modulates sperm motility through a signaling pathway involving several ionic fluxes leading to pHi and [Ca²⁺]i increases. [Ca²⁺]i oscillations in the flagellum regulate its beating pattern modulating sperm swimming. Recent evidence showed the importance of pHi in controlling Ca²⁺ influx and chemotaxis. However, spatio-temporal characterization of the flagellar pHi increase triggered by speract, and its correlation to that of [Ca²⁺]i is lacking. Here, we show for the first time in single sea urchin spermatozoa that the speract-induced flagellar pHi increase precedes and is independent of [Ca²⁺]i increase. Our results support a leading role of pHi in modulating the Ca²⁺ signals that govern sperm swimming.