Although Percoll gradient centrifugation has been used routinely to prepare motile human sperm, its use in preparing motile mouse sperm has been limited. Here, we showed that Percoll gradient-centrifuged (PGC) capacitated mouse sperm had markedly higher fertilizing ability (sperm-zona pellucida [ZP] binding and in vitro fertilization) than washed capacitated mouse sperm. We also showed that the lipid profiles of PGC capacitated sperm and washed capacitated sperm differed significantly. The PGC sperm had much lower contents of cholesterol and phospholipids. This resulted in relative enrichment of male germ cell-specific sulfogalactosylglycerolipid (SGG), a ZP-binding ligand, in PGC capacitated sperm, and this would explain, in part, their increased ZP-binding ability compared with that of washed capacitated sperm. Analyses of phospholipid fatty acyl chains revealed that PGC capacitated sperm were enriched in phosphatidylcholine (PC) molecular species containing highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs), with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; C22: 6n-3) being the predominant HUFA (42% of total hydrocarbon chains of PC). In contrast, the level of PC-HUFAs comprising arachidonic acid (20:4n-6), docosapentaenoic acid (C22:5n-6), and DHA in washed capacitated sperm was only 27%. Having the highest unsaturation degree among all HUFAs in PC, DHA would enhance membrane fluidity to the uppermost. Therefore, membranes of PGC capacitated sperm would undergo fertilization-related fusion events at higher rates than washed capacitated sperm. These results suggested that PGC mouse sperm should be used in fertilization experiments and that SGG and DHA should be considered to be important biomarkers for sperm fertilizing ability.
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