Expression of Hsp60 and Grp78 in the human endometrium and oviduct, and their effect on sperm functions

Hum Reprod. 2007 Oct;22(10):2606-14. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dem242. Epub 2007 Aug 1.


Background: Within the female genital tract, spermatozoa undergo a series of membranous and intracellular transformations to become competent at fertilizing the oocyte. In the bovine, previous studies have shown that two oviductal proteins, heat shock protein 60 (Hsp60) and glucose regulated protein 78 (Grp78), bind to spermatozoa and may be involved in this acquisition of fertilizing competence.

Methods: Immunohistochemical studies were performed on human endometrial and oviduct tissues to localize these two chaperones in the female genital tract. Human spermatozoa were incubated under capacitating conditions in the presence or absence of recombinant Hsp60 or Grp78. Following a 4-h incubation, the effects of these proteins were evaluated on sperm acrosomal integrity, motility, protein phosphotyrosine content and free intracellular calcium concentrations.

Results: Both chaperones were present in the uterus and oviduct epithelial cells and were shown to bind to human spermatozoa. Incubation with either exogenous Hsp60 or Grp78 did not affect sperm viability, motility or acrosomal integrity. Hsp60 partially prevented the increase in p81 phosphotyrosine content induced by the phosphodiesterase inhibitor 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine and both chaperones significantly increased the sperm intracellular calcium concentration. Moreover, the progesterone-induced increase in intracellular calcium was higher when sperm were pre-treated with either Hsp60 or Grp78.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that these two proteins may affect human sperm intracellular signalling pathways and capacitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 1-Methyl-3-isobutylxanthine / pharmacology
  • Acrosome Reaction / drug effects
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Chaperonin 60 / biosynthesis*
  • Chaperonin 60 / metabolism
  • Endometrium / metabolism*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Chaperone BiP
  • Fallopian Tubes / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Molecular Chaperones / biosynthesis*
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism
  • Phosphotyrosine / biosynthesis
  • Progesterone / pharmacology
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*
  • Thapsigargin / pharmacology


  • Chaperonin 60
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Chaperone BiP
  • HSPA5 protein, human
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Phosphotyrosine
  • Progesterone
  • Thapsigargin
  • Calcium
  • 1-Methyl-3-isobutylxanthine