SKF96365 modulates activity of CatSper channels in human sperm

Elis Torrezan-Nitao, Sean Brown, Linda Lefievre, Jennifer Morris, Joao Correia, Claire Harper, Stephen Publicover

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Exposure of human sperm to progesterone (P4) activates cation channel of sperm (CatSper) channels, inducing an intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) transient followed by repetitive [Ca2+]i activity (oscillations), which are believed to be functionally important. We investigated the potential significance of store-operated Ca2+-entry in these oscillations using the inhibitor SKF96365 (30 µM; SKF). Following pre-treatment of human sperm with 3 µM P4, exposure to SKF doubled the proportion of oscillating cells (P = 0.00004). In non-pre-treated cells, SKF had an effect similar to P4, inducing a [Ca2+]i transient in > 80% of cells which was followed by oscillations in ≈50% of cells. The CatSper blocker RU1968 (11 µM) inhibited the SKF-induced [Ca2+]i increase and reversibly arrested [Ca2+]i oscillations. Using whole-cell patch clamp, we observed that SKF enhanced CatSper currents by 100% within 30 s, but amplitude then decayed to levels below control over the next minute. When cells were stimulated with P4, CatSper currents were stably increased (by 200%). Application of SKF then returned current amplitude to control level or less. When sperm were prepared in medium lacking bovine serum albumin (BSA), both P4 and SKF induced a [Ca2+]i transient in > 95% of cells but the ability of SKF to induce oscillations was greatly reduced (P = 0.0009). We conclude that SKF, similar to a range of small organic molecules, activates CatSper channels, but that a secondary blocking action also occurs, which was detected only during patch-clamp recording. The failure of SKF to induce oscillations when cells were prepared without BSA emphasises that the drug does not fully mimic the actions of P4.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number6
Early online date27 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Apr 2023


  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Embryology
  • Reproductive Medicine


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