Laboratory of Comparative Physiology-Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies, University of Salento, Via Provinciale Lecce-Monteroni 73100 Lecce, Italy
In many marine fish species, the spermatozoa are immotile in the testis and seminal plasma, and motility is induced when they are released in the aqueous environment. It is well known that the extracellular factors (hyperosmolality or sperm-activating peptides), controlling sperm motility in marine fish, act on the axonemal apparatus through signal transduction across the plasma membrane. To better understand the molecular mechanism regulating axoneme activation in marine fish, the present review examines the existing literature, with particular emphasis on protein phosphorylation/dephosphorylation process.
The present review suggests that: (1) there is no single model that can explain the molecular activation and regulation of sperm motility of the marine fish; (2) only in some species (puffer fish, tilapia, gilthead sea bream, and striped sea bream) protein phosphorylation/dephosphorylation has been shown to be involved in flagellar motility regulation; (3) only a few proteins were identified, which show a change in their state of phosphorylation following sperm activation.
A model of molecular mechanism controlling the activation of sperm motility in gilthead sea bream is being proposed here, which could be a useful model to clarify the sperm motility activation process in other species.