Metabolic substrates exhibit differential effects on functional parameters of mouse sperm capacitation

Summer G. Goodson, Yunping Qiu, Keith A. Sutton, Guoxiang Xie, Wei Jia, Deborah A. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Although substantial evidence exists that sperm ATP production via glycolysis is required for mammalian sperm function and male fertility, conflicting reports involving multiple species have appeared regarding the ability of individual glycolytic or mitochondrial substrates to support the physiological changes that occur during capacitation. Severalmouse models with defects in the signaling pathways required for capacitation exhibit reductions in sperm ATP levels, suggesting regulatory interactions between sperm metabolism and signal transduction cascades. To better understand these interactions, we conducted quantitative studies of mouse sperm throughout a 2-h in vitro capacitation period and compared the effects of single substrates assayed under identical conditions. Multiple glycolytic and nonglycolytic substrates maintained sperm ATP levels and comparable percentages of motility, but only glucose and mannose supported hyperactivation.These monosaccharides and fructose supported the full pattern of tyrosine phosphorylation, whereas nonglycolytic substrates supported at least partial tyrosine phosphorylation.Inhibition of glycolysis impaired motility in the presence of glucose, fructose, or pyruvate but not in the presence of hydroxybutyrate. Addition of an uncoupler of oxidative phosphorylation reduced motility with pyruvate or hydroxybutyrate as substrates but unexpectedly stimulated hyperactivation with fructose. Investigating differences between glucose and fructose in more detail, we demonstrated that hyperactivation results from the active metabolism of glucose. Differences between glucose and fructose appeared to be downstream of changes in intracellular pH, which rose to comparable levels during incubation with either substrate. Sperm redox pathways were differentially affected, with higher levels of associated metabolites and reactive oxygen species generated during incubations with fructose than during incubations with glucose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 75
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Glycolysis
  • Metabolism
  • Sperm capacitation
  • Sperm hyperactivation
  • Sperm motility and transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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