We investigated the role of endogenous redox activity in regulating the signal transduction pathway leading to tyrosine phosphorylation in mouse spermatozoa. Endogenous redox activity was monitored using a luminol-peroxidase chemiluminescent probe. Chemiluminescence increased in spermatozoa that were actively undergoing cAMP-mediated tyrosine phosphorylation events associated with capacitation and was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner by addition of catalase or diphenylene iodonium, both of which also inhibited tyrosine phosphorylation within the cell at points downstream of cAMP. Excluding bicarbonate from the incubation medium reduced the redox activity of sperm by 80–90% and dramatically reduced tyrosine phosphorylation. This study provides the first evidence that tyrosine phosphorylation associated with capacitation in mouse spermatozoa is redox regulated by a flavinoid-containing enzyme involving mediation by hydrogen peroxide. Bicarbonate regulated the redox activity of mouse spermatozoa, and this regulation may contribute to the impact of this anion on tyrosine phosphorylation during capacitation of mouse spermatozoa.
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