Spermatozoa successfully fertilize oocytes depending on cell energy-sensitive processes. We recently showed that the cell energy sensor, the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), plays a relevant role in spermatozoa by regulating motility as well as plasma membrane organization and acrosomal integrity, and contributes to the maintenance of mitochondrial membrane potential. As the signaling pathways that control AMPK activity have been studied exclusively in somatic cells, our aim is to investigate the intracellular pathways that regulate AMPK phosphorylation at Thr172 (activity) in male germ cells. Boar spermatozoa were incubated under different conditions in the presence or absence of Ca2 , 8Br-cAMP, IBMX, PMA, the AMPK activator A769662, or inhibitors of PKA, PKC, or CaMKKalpha/beta. AMPK phosphorylation was evaluated by Western blot using anti-phospho-Thr172-AMPK antibody. Data show that AMPK phosphorylation in spermatozoa is potently stimulated by an elevation of cAMP levels through the activation of PKA, as the PKA inhibitor H89 blocks phospho-Thr172-AMPK. Another mechanism to potently activate AMPK is Ca2 that acts through two pathways, PKA (blocked by H89) and CaMKKalpha/beta (blocked by STO-609). Moreover, phospho-Thr172-AMPK levels greatly increased upon PKC activation induced by PMA, and the PKC inhibitor Ro-32-0432 inhibits TCM-induced AMPK activation. Different stimuli considered as cell stresses (rotenone, cyanide, sorbitol, and complete absence of intracellular Ca2 by BAPTA-AM) also cause AMPK phosphorylation in spermatozoa. In summary, AMPK activity in boar spermatozoa is regulated upstream by different kinases, such as PKA, CaMKKalpha/beta, and PKC, as well as by the essential intracellular messengers for spermatozoan function, Ca2 and cAMP levels.
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Vol. 90 • No. 2