Expression of a mitochondrial progesterone receptor in human spermatozoa correlates with a progestin-dependent increase in mitochondrial membrane potential.
The hyperactivation of human spermatozoa necessary for fertilization requires a substantial increase in cellular energy production. The factors responsible for increasing cellular energy remain poorly defined. This article proposes a role for a novel mitochondrial progesterone receptor (PR-M) in modulation of mitochondrial activity. Basic science studies demonstrate a 38 kDa protein with western blot analysis, consistent with PR-M; whereas imaging studies with confocal and immunoelectron microscopy demonstrate a PR on the mitochondria. Treatment with a PR-specific progestin shows increased mitochondrial membrane potential, not related to induction of an acrosome reaction. The increase in mitochondrial membrane potential was inhibited by a specific PR antagonist, but not affected by an inhibitor to the progesterone-dependent Catsper voltage-activated channel. In conclusion, these studies suggest expression of a novel mitochondrial PR in human spermatozoa with a progestin-dependent increase in mitochondrial activity. This mechanism may serve to enhance cellular energy production as the spermatozoa traverse the female genital tract being exposed to increasing concentrations of progesterone.
Tantibhedhyangkul, J; Hawkins, KC; Dai, Q; Mu, K; Dunn, CN; Miller, SE; Price, TM
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