Editors' ChoiceCalcium Channels

Every CatSper is Sacred

Science's STKE  16 Oct 2001:
Vol. 2001, Issue 104, pp. tw375
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2001.104.tw375

Sperm undergo a process called capacitance, part of which involves increasing their motility in the female reproductive tract. Ren et al. have found and characterized a new Ca2+ channel expressed in sperm tails, termed CatSper, that is required for sperm motility and male fertility. CatSper–/– mice, although infertile, produced normal amounts of sperm and exhibited normal sexual behavior. However, CatSper-deficient mice had immotile sperm that could only fertilize eggs without the zona pellucida (but not intact eggs), suggesting that CatSper may be necessary for egg penetration. CatSper was activated by cyclic AMP and resulted in Ca2+ influx, suggesting that tail movement depended on increased intracellular Ca2+ concentrations. These results indicate that CatSper might be a useful target for contraception with minimal side effects, as CatSper is only expressed in the testis. Garbers provides a helpful News & Views commentary.

D. Ren, B. Navarro, G. Perez, A. C. Jackson, S. Hsu, Q. Shi, J. L. Tilly, D. E. Clapham, A sperm ion channel required for sperm motility and male fertility. Nature 413, 603-609 (2001). [Online Journal]

D. L. Garbers, Swimming with sperm. Nature 413, 579-580 (2001). [Online Journal]