Fertilizing sperm are retained by adhesion to specific glycans on the epithelium of the oviduct forming a reservoir before sperm are released from the reservoir so fertilization can ensue. Capacitated sperm lose affinity for the oviduct epithelium but the components of capacitation that are important for sperm release are uncertain. One important correlate of capacitation is the development of hyperactivated motility. Hyperactivation is characterized by asymmetrical flagellar beating with high beat amplitude. We tested whether the development of full-type asymmetrical motility was sufficient to release sperm from immobilized oviduct glycans. Sperm hyperactivation was induced by four different compounds, a cell-permeable cAMP analog (cBiMPS), CatSper activators (4-aminopyridine and procaine), and an endogenous steroid (progesterone). Using standard analysis (CASA) and direct visualization with high-speed video microscopy, we first confirmed that all four compounds induced hyperactivation. Subsequently, sperm were allowed to bind to immobilized oviduct glycans, and compounds or vehicle controls were added. All compounds caused sperm release from immobilized glycans, demonstrating that hyperactivation was sufficient to release sperm from oviduct cells and immobilized glycans. Pharmacological inhibition of the non-genomic progesterone receptor and CatSper diminished sperm release from oviduct glycans. Inhibition of the proteolytic activities of the ubiquitin–proteasome system (UPS), implicated in the regulation of sperm capacitation, diminished sperm release in response to all hyperactivation inducers. In summary, induction of sperm hyperactivation was sufficient to induce sperm release from immobilized oviduct glycans and release was dependent on CatSper and the UPS.
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