Cation channels of sperm (CatSper) are sperm-specific calcium channels with identified roles in the regulation of sperm function in humans, mice, and horses. We sought to employ a comparative genomics approach to identify conserved CATSPER genes in the bovine genome, and profile their expression in reproductive tissue. We hypothesized that CATSPER proteins expressed in bull testicular tissue mediates sperm hyperactivation and their rheotactic response in the reproductive tract of the cow. Bioinformatic analysis identified all four known CATSPER genes (CATSPER 1–4) in the bovine genome, and profiling by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction identified site-specific variation in messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) expression for all four genes along the reproductive tract of the bull. Using a novel antibody against CATSPER 1, protein expression was confirmed and localized to the principal piece of bull sperm, in agreement with what has been reported in other species. Subsequent treatment of bull sperm with either the calcium chelator ethylene glycol tetraacetic acid;mibefradil, a specific blocker of CatSper channels in human sperm; or CATSPER1 antibody all significantly inhibited caffeine-induced hyperactivation and the rheotactic response, supporting the concept that the calcium influx occurs via CatSper channels. Taken together, the work here provides novel insights into expression and function of CatSper channels in bull testicular tissue and in the function of ejaculated sperm.
The effect of blocking calcium channels on hyperactivation and rheotactic response.