Semen cryopreservation is a unique tool for the management of animal genetic diversity. However, the freeze-thaw process causes biochemical and physical alterations which make difficult the restoration of sperm energy-dependent functions needed for fertilization. 5'-AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a key sensor and regulator of intracellular energy metabolism. Mitochondria functions are known to be severely affected during sperm cryopreservation with deleterious oxidative and peroxidative effects leading to cell integrity and functions damages. The aim of this study was thus to examine the role of AMPK on the peroxidation/antioxidant enzymes defense system in frozen-thawed sperm and its consequences on sperm functions. Chicken semen was diluted in media supplemented with or without AMPK activators (AICAR or Metformin [MET]) or inhibitor (Compound C [CC]) and then cryopreserved. AMPK alpha phosphorylation, antioxidant enzymes activities, mitochondrial potential, ATP, citrate, viability, acrosome reaction ability (AR) and various motility parameters were negatively affected by the freeze-thaw process while reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, lipid peroxidation (LPO) and lactate concentration were dramatically increased. AICAR partially restored superoxide dismutase (SOD), Glutathione Peroxidase (GPx) and Glutathione Reductase (GR), increased ATP, citrate, and lactate concentration and subsequently decreased the ROS and LPO (malondialdehyde) in frozen-thawed semen. Motility parameters were increased (i.e., +23% for motility, +34% for rapid sperm) as well as AR (+100%). MET had similar effects as AICAR except that catalase activity was restored and that ATP and mitochondrial potential were further decreased. CC showed effects opposite to AICAR on SOD, ROS, LPO and AR and motility parameters. Taken together, our results strongly suggest that, upon freeze-thaw process, AMPK stimulated intracellular anti-oxidative defense enzymes through ATP regulation, thus reducing ROS and lipid peroxidation, and consequently partially restoring several essential sperm functions and leading to a better quality of cryopreserved sperm.
Avian gametes present specific features related to their internal long-term mode of fertilization. Among other central actors of energetic metabolism control, it has been suspected that 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) influences sperm functions and thus plays a key role in fertilization success. In the present work, we studied AMPK localization and function in chicken sperm incubated in vitro. Effects of the pharmacological AMPK activators (AICAR, metformin) and the AMPK inhibitor compound C were assessed by evaluating AMPKalpha (Thr(172)) phosphorylation (by Western blotting), semen quality (by viability, motility, and ability to perform acrosome reaction), and energetic metabolism indicators (lactate, ATP). Localization of AMPK in subcellular sperm compartments was evaluated by immunocytochemistry. Total AMPK was found in all compartments except for the nucleus, but the phosphorylated form phospho-Thr(172) -AMPK was essentially localized in the flagellum and acrosome. AMPK activators significantly improved AMPK phosphorylation, sperm motility (increased by 40% motile, 90% progressive, and 60% rapid sperm), acrosome reaction and lactate production (increased by 40%) and viability. The AMPK inhibitor significantly reduced AMPK phosphorylation and percentages of motility (decrease by 25%), progressive energy (decrease by 35%), and rapid sperm (decreased by 30%), acrosome reaction, lactate production, and ATP release. The two activators differed in their effect on ATP concentration: AICAR stimulated ATP formation, whereas metformin did not. Our results indicate that AMPK plays a key role in the regulation of chicken sperm functions and metabolism. This action differs from that suggested in mammals, mainly by its crucial involvement in the acrosome reaction process.
Despite knowledge that glucose metabolism is essential for the regulation of signaling cascades in the sperm that are pre-assembled into specific areas and function at multistage for fertilization, the physiological roles of glucose in avian sperm are poorly understood. Accumulated results of studies conducted in our laboratory and others indicate that sperm possess membrane microdomains, or membrane rafts, which play important roles in several processes, including the induction of acrosome reaction (AR). When characterizing proteomes associated with chicken sperm rafts, we observed marked enrichment of glucose transporter 3 (GLUT3). Here we show that glucose uptake is mediated by membrane rafts and stimulates AR induction by activating AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Using a specific antibody, we observed that GLUT3 is localized to the entire flagellum and acrosome region and highly associated with membrane rafts. The addition of glucose stimulated AR in a dose-dependent manner without affecting sperm motility. AR and glucose uptake assays were performed using both inhibitors and activators, and demonstrated that glucose-dependent AR results from the activity of a glucose transporter located in membrane rafts and associated with AMPK. To better understand the mechanism of AMPK activation by glucose, we evaluated localization and phosphorylation status of AMPK alpha, showing that glucose uptake stimulates AMPK alpha phosphorylation, leading to its complete activation. Together, these results lead us to propose a novel mechanism by which glucose uptake stimulates the AMPK signaling pathway via membrane rafts, resulting in maximal acrosomal responsiveness in avian sperm as migrating upward to a fertilization site. Glucose uptake is mediated by membrane rafts, which results in stimulation of AR induction via AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation.
The sperm quality is a vital economical requisite of poultry production. Our previous study found non-thermal dielectric barrier discharge plasma exposure on fertilized eggs could increase the chicken growth and the male reproduction. However, it is unclear how plasma treatment regulates the reproductive capacity in male chickens. In this study, we used the optimal plasma treatment condition (2.81W for 2 min) which has been applied on 3.5-day-incubated fertilized eggs in the previous work and investigated the reproductive performance in male chickens aged at 20 and 40 weeks. The results showed that plasma exposure increased sperm count, motility, fertility rate, and fertilization period of male chickens. The sperm quality-promoting effect of plasma treatment was regulated by the significant improvements of adenosine triphosphate production and testosterone level, and by the modulation of reactive oxygen species balance and adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase and mammalian target of rapamycin pathway in the spermatozoa. Additionally, the plasma effect suggested that DNA demethylation and microRNA differential expression (a total number of 39 microRNAs were up-regulated whereas 53 microRNAs down-regulated in the testis) regulated the increases of adenosine triphosphate synthesis and testosterone level for promoting the chicken sperm quality. This finding might be beneficial to elevate the fertilization rate and embryo quality for the next generation in poultry breeding.
Cellular membranes are heterogeneous, and this has a great impact on cellular function. Despite the central role of membrane functions in multiple cellular processes in sperm, their molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. Membrane rafts are specific membrane domains enriched in cholesterol, ganglioside GM1, and functional proteins, and they are involved in the regulation of a variety of cellular functions. Studies of the functional characterization of membrane rafts in mammalian sperm have demonstrated roles in sperm-egg binding and the acrosomal reaction. Recently, our biochemical and cell biological studies showed that membrane rafts are present and might play functional roles in chicken sperm. In this study, we isolated membrane rafts from chicken sperm as a detergent-resistant membranes (DRM) floating on a density gradient in the presence of 1% Triton X-100, and characterized the function and proteomes associated with these domains. Biochemical comparison of the DRM between fresh and cryopreserved sperm demonstrated that cryopreservation induces cholesterol loss specifically from membrane rafts, indicating the functional connection with reduced post-thaw fertility in chicken sperm. Furthermore, using an avidin-biotin system, we found that sperm DRM is highly enriched in a 60 KDa single protein able to bind to the inner perivitelline layer. To identify possible roles of membrane rafts, quantitative proteomics, combined with a stable isotope dimethyl labeling approach, identified 82 proteins exclusively or relatively more associated with membrane rafts. Our results demonstrate the functional distinctions between membrane domains and provide compelling evidence that membrane rafts are involved in various cellular pathways inherent to chicken sperm.
The quality of avian semen is an important economic trait in poultry production. The present study examines the in vitro effects of non-thermal dielectric barrier discharge plasma on chicken sperm to determine the plasma conditions that can produce the optimum sperm quality. Exposure to 11.7 kV of plasma for 20 s is found to produce maximum sperm motility by controlling the homeostasis of reactive oxygen species and boosting the release of adenosine triphosphate and respiratory enzyme activity in the mitochondria. However, prolonged exposure or further increase in plasma potential impairs the sperm quality in a time-and dose-dependent manner. Optimal plasma treatment of sperm results in upregulated mRNA and protein expression of antioxidant defense-related and energetic metabolism-related genes by increasing their demethylation levels. However, 27.6 kV of plasma exerts significant adverse effects. Thus, our findings indicate that appropriate plasma exposure conditions improve chicken sperm motility by regulating demethylation levels of genes involved in antioxidant defense and energetic metabolism.
Sperm plasma membrane is an essential structure of sperm resistance to freezing. Signs of cryodamage can be visible on the sperm plasma membrane. The aim of our study was to evaluate the appearance of plasma membrane and acrosome in fresh and frozen‐thawed chicken sperm using electron and fluorescence microscopy. Semen was collected from 12 sexually mature roosters of Ross PM3 heavy line, diluted with Kobidil+ extender with 16% of ethylene glycol (KEG; control) or with KEG in combination with one of following non‐permeating cryoprotectants: trehalose (KEG‐TRE) or glycine (KEG‐GLY). Fluorescence staining was used for detection of the membrane integrity, apoptotic changes and viability (Annexin V, Yo‐PRO‐1, PI, respectively). Ultrathin sections (70 nm) from samples were prepared to examine sperm head ultrastructure. Freezing process significantly worsened the status of the sperm plasma membranes. In all frozen groups, only about a quarter of the evaluated sperm were graded as class I quality. In the KEG and KEG‐GLY groups, about half of sperm had severe plasma membrane damages (III class). In sperm with extensively damaged membranes (III class), the acrosome–sperm head junction was mostly disturbed. The use of trehalose was more beneficial (p < 0.05) for sperm plasma membrane than the use of glycine. In contrast, a decrease (p < 0.05) in the apoptotic sperm ratio (Yo‐PRO‐1) was noted in the KEG‐GLY group when compared to other treatments. In conclusion, we identified different plasma membrane and acrosome damages in cryopreserved chicken sperm. The loss of acrosomes can contribute to diminishing of fertilization ability of cryopreserved chicken sperm.
Contents There is need for standardization of freezing–thawing protocol for rooster semen to minimize variability among results. Therefore, we aimed to compare effect of four different permeating cryoprotectants and two thawing temperatures (37 vs. 5°C) on sperm post‐thaw motility and to analyse combined effect of the best permeating cryoprotectant (P‐CPA) with one of four non‐permeating cryoprotectants (N‐CPA) on post‐thaw quality of rooster semen evaluated in vitro. Pooled semen from Ross PM3 rooster heavy line was diluted in Kobidil extender and frozen in cryoprotectant solution containing 6% dimethylacetamide, 7.5% dimethylformamide, 9% N‐methylacetamide or 8% ethylene glycol (EG) in liquid nitrogen vapours. To determine the best thawing rate, straws were thawed either at 37 or 5°C. Furthermore, samples were frozen in the presence of the best N‐CPA either with 0.75 mol/L ficoll, 0.2 mol/L sucrose, 0.2 mol/L trehalose or 0.05 mol/L glycine. Sperm motility, membrane destabilization and viability were analysed to compare different freezing–thawing conditions. In addition, morphology and ultrastructure analysis were performed to compare fresh and frozen‐thawed sperm quality. Our results indicate that the combination of EG and the thawing at 5°C improves (p ≤ .05) sperm post‐thaw motility. Moreover, ficoll addition to EG‐based freezing extender provided additional beneficial effect (p ≤ .05) on progressive movement and apoptosis incidence. Further work should evaluate different N‐CPA concentrations to improve freezing protocol. In addition, fertility evaluation and testing on different chicken lines are needed in order to contribute to animal genetic resources bank.
Cellular membranes are heterogeneous, and this has a great impact on cellular function. Despite the central role of membrane functions in multiple cellular processes in sperm, their molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. Membrane rafts are specific membrane domains enriched in cholesterol, ganglioside G(M1), and functional proteins, and they are involved in the regulation of a variety of cellular functions. Studies of the functional characterization of membrane rafts in mammalian sperm have demonstrated roles in sperm-egg binding and the acrosomal reaction. Recently, our biochemical and cell biological studies showed that membrane rafts are present and might play functional roles in chicken sperm. In this study, we isolated membrane rafts from chicken sperm as a detergent-resistant membranes (DRM) floating on a density gradient in the presence of 1% Triton X-100, and characterized the function and proteomes associated with these domains. Biochemical comparison of the DRM between fresh and cryopreserved sperm demonstrated that cryopreservation induces cholesterol loss specifically from membrane rafts, indicating the functional connection with reduced post-thaw fertility in chicken sperm. Furthermore, using an avidin-biotin system, we found that sperm DRM is highly enriched in a 60 KDa single protein able to bind to the inner perivitelline layer. To identify possible roles of membrane rafts, quantitative proteomics, combined with a stable isotope dimethyl labeling approach, identified 82 proteins exclusively or relatively more associated with membrane rafts. Our results demonstrate the functional distinctions between membrane domains and provide compelling evidence that membrane rafts are involved in various cellular pathways inherent to chicken sperm.
Intracellular cytoplasmic calcium ([Ca2+]i) has an important regulatory role in gamete functions. However, the biochemical components involved in Ca2+ transport are still unknown in birds, an animal class that has lost functional sperm‐specific CatSper channels. Here, we provide evidence for the presence and expression of various Ca2+ channels in chicken sperm, including high voltage‐activated channels (L and R types), the store‐operated Ca2+ channel (SOC) component Orai1, the transient receptor potential channel (TRPC1) and inositol‐1,4,5–trisphosphate receptors (IP3R1). L‐ and R–type channels were mainly localized in the acrosome and the midpiece, and T–type channels were not detected in chicken sperm. Orai1 was found in all compartments, but with a weak, diffuse signal in the flagellum. TRCP1 was mainly localized in the acrosome and the midpiece, but a weak diffuse signal was also observed in the nucleus and the flagellum. IP3R1 was mainly detected in the nucleus. The L–type channel inhibitor nifedipine, the R–type channel inhibitor SNX–482 and the SOC inhibitors MRS–1845, 2–APB and YM–58483 decreased [Ca2+]i sperm motility and acrosome reaction capability, with the SOC inhibitors inhibiting these functions most efficiently. Furthermore, we showed that Ca2+‐mediated induction of AMP‐activated protein kinase (AMPK) phosphorylation was blocked by SOC inhibition. Our identification of important regulators of Ca2+ signaling in avian sperm suggests that SOCs play a predominant role in gamete function, whereas T–type channels may not be involved. In addition, Ca2+ entry via SOCs appears to be the most likely pathway for AMPK activation and energy‐requiring sperm functions such as motility and the acrosome reaction. We identified the presence of several Ca2+ channels (L‐type, R‐type, T‐type, TRPC1, Orai1 and IP3R) in chicken spermatozoa and investigated the role of store‐operated channels in AMPK activation. Ca2+ channels influence chicken spermatozoa functions that are required for fertilization such as motility and the acrosome reaction. Store‐operated channels also have a role in AMPK activation.