Parkinson disease protein 7 (PARK7) is related to the ability of mammalian sperm to undergo in vitro capacitation

Parkinson disease protein 7 (PARK7) is a multifunctional protein known to be involved in the regulation of sperm motility, mitochondrial function, and oxidative stress response in mammalian sperm. While ROS generation is needed to activate the downstream signaling pathways required for sperm to undergo capacitation, oxidative stress has detrimental effects for sperm cells and a precise balance between ROS levels and antioxidant activity is needed. Considering the putative antioxidant role of PARK7, the present work sought to determine whether this protein is related to the sperm ability to withstand in vitro capacitation. To this end, and using the pig as a model, semen samples were incubated in capacitation medium for 300 min; the acrosomal exocytosis was triggered by the addition of progesterone after 240 min of incubation. At each relevant time point (0, 120, 240, 250, and 300 min), sperm motility, acrosome and plasma membrane integrity, membrane lipid disorder, mitochondrial membrane potential, intracellular calcium and ROS were evaluated. In addition, localization and protein levels of PARK7 were also assessed through immunofluorescence and immunoblotting. Based on the relative content of PARK7, two groups of samples were set. As early as 120 min of incubation, sperm samples with larger PARK7 content showed higher percentages of viable and acrosome-intact sperm, lipid disorder and superoxide levels, and lower intracellular calcium levels when compared to sperm samples with lower PARK7. These data suggest that PARK7 could play a role in preventing sperm from undergoing premature capacitation, maintaining sperm viability and providing a better ability to keep ROS homeostasis, which is needed to elicit sperm capacitation. Further studies are required to elucidate the antioxidant properties of PARK7 during in vitro capacitation and acrosomal exocytosis of mammalian sperm, and the relationship between PARK7 and sperm motility ​
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