In marine teleosts, such as the gilthead seabream, several aquaporin paralogs are known to be expressed during the hyperosmotic induction of spermatozoon motility in seawater. Here, we used immunological inhibition of channel function to investigate the physiological roles of Aqp1aa, Aqp1ab, and Aqp7 during seabream sperm activation. Double immunofluorescence microscopy of SW-activated sperm showed that Aqp1aa and Aqp7 were respectively distributed along the flagellum and the head, whereas Aqp1ab accumulated in the head and in discrete areas toward the anterior tail. Inhibition of Aqp1aa reduced the rise of intracellular Ca2 , which is independent of external Ca2 and normally occurs upon activation, and strongly inhibited sperm motility. Impaired Aqp1aa function also prevented the intracellular trafficking of Aqp8b to the mitochondrion, where it acts as a peroxiporin allowing H2O2 efflux and ATP production during activation. However, restoring the Ca2 levels with a Ca2 ionophore in spermatozoa with immunosuppressed Aqp1aa function fully rescued mitochondrial Aqp8b accumulation and sperm motility. In contrast, exposure of sperm to Aqp1ab and Aqp7 antibodies did not affect motility during the initial phase of activation, but latently compromised the trajectory and the pattern of movement. These data reveal the coordinated action of spatially segregated aquaporins during sperm motility activation in a marine teleost, where flagellar-localized Aqp1aa plays a dual Ca2 -dependent role controlling the initiation of sperm motility and the activation of mitochondrial detoxification mechanisms, while Aqp1ab and Aqp7 in the head and anterior tail direct the motion pattern.
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Vol. 93 • No. 2