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Antigen unmasking enhances visualization efficacy of the oocyte activation factor, phospholipase C zeta, in mammalian sperm

Kashir, Junaid, Buntwal, Luke, Nomikos, Michail, Calver, Brian L., Stamatiadis, Panagiotis, Ashley, Peter, Vassilakopoulou, Vyronia, Sanders, David, Knaggs, Paul, Livaniou, Evangelia, Bunkheila, Adnan, Swann, Karl and Lai, Francis Anthony 2017. Antigen unmasking enhances visualization efficacy of the oocyte activation factor, phospholipase C zeta, in mammalian sperm. Molecular Human Reproduction 23 (1) , pp. 54-67. 10.1093/molehr/gaw073

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Study Question Is it possible to improve clinical visualization of phospholipase C zeta (PLCζ) as a diagnostic marker of sperm oocyte activation capacity and male fertility? Summary Answer Poor PLCζ visualization efficacy using current protocols may be due to steric or conformational occlusion of native PLCζ, hindering antibody access, and is significantly enhanced using antigen unmasking/retrieval (AUM) protocols. What is Known Already Mammalian oocyte activation is mediated via a series of intracellular calcium (Ca2+) oscillations induced by sperm-specific PLCζ. PLCζ represents not only a potential clinical therapeutic in cases of oocyte activation deficiency but also a diagnostic marker of sperm fertility. However, there are significant concerns surrounding PLCζ antibody specificity and detection protocols. Study Design, Size Duration Two PLCζ polyclonal antibodies, with confirmed PLCζ specificity, were employed in mouse, porcine and human sperm. Experiments evaluated PLCζ visualization efficacy, and whether AUM improved this. Antibodies against two sperm-specific proteins [post-acrosomal WW-binding protein (PAWP) and acrosin] were used as controls. Participants/Materials, Setting, Methods Aldehyde- and methanol-fixed sperm were subject to immunofluorescence analysis following HCl exposure (pH = 0.1–0.5), acid Tyrode's solution exposure (pH = 2.5) or heating in 10 mM sodium citrate solution (pH = 6.0). Fluorescence intensity of at least 300 cells was recorded for each treatment, with three independent repeats. Main Results and the Role of Chance Despite high specificity for native PLCζ following immunoblotting using epitope-specific polyclonal PLCζ antibodies in mouse, porcine and human sperm, immunofluorescent visualization efficacy was poor. In contrast, sperm markers PAWP and acrosin exhibited relatively impressive results. All methods of AUM on aldehyde-fixed sperm enhanced visualization efficacy for PLCζ compared to visualization efficacy before AUM (P < 0.05 for all AUM interventions), but exerted no significant change upon PAWP or acrosin immunofluorescence following AUM. All methods of AUM enhanced PLCζ visualization efficacy in mouse and human methanol-fixed sperm compared to without AUM (P < 0.05 for all AUM interventions), while no significant change was observed in methanol-fixed porcine sperm before and after. In the absence of aldehyde-induced cross-linkages, such results suggest that poor PLCζ visualization efficacy may be due to steric or conformational occlusion of native PLCζ, hindering antibody access. Importantly, examination of sperm from individual donors revealed that AUM differentially affects observable PLCζ fluorescence, and the proportion of sperm exhibiting detectable PLCζ fluorescence in sperm from different males. Limitations, Reasons for Caution Direct correlation of fertility outcomes with the level of PLCζ in the sperm samples studied was not available. Such analyses would be required in future to determine whether the improved methodology for PLCζ visualization we propose would indeed reflect fertility status. Wider Implications of the Findings We propose that AUM alters conformational interactions to enhance PLCζ epitope availability and visualization efficacy, supporting prospective application of AUM to reduce misinterpretation in clinical diagnosis of PLCζ-linked male infertility. Our current results suggest that it is perhaps prudent that previous studies investigating links between PLCζ and fertility parameters are re-examined in the context of AUM, and may pave the way for future work to answer significant questions such as how PLCζ appears to be kept in an inactive form in the sperm.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 1360-9947
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 June 2017
Date of Acceptance: 21 November 2016
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2020 04:37

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