Fertilization, a key step in sexual reproduction, requires orchestrated changes in cAMP concentrations. It is notable that spermatozoa (sperm) are among the cell types with extremely high adenylyl cyclase (AC) activity. As production and consumption of this second messenger need to be locally regulated, the discovery of soluble AC (sAC) has broadened our understanding of how such cells deal with these requirements. In addition, because sAC is directly regulated by HCO(3)(-) it is able to translate CO₂/HCO(3)(-)/pH changes into cAMP levels. Fundamental sperm functions such as maturation, motility regulation and the acrosome reaction are influenced by cAMP; this is especially true for sperm of the sea urchin (SU), an organism that has been a model in the study of fertilization for more than 130 years. Here we summarize the discovery and properties of SU sperm sAC, and discuss its involvement in sperm physiology. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: The role of soluble adenylyl cyclase in health and disease.
Keywords: Adenylyl cyclase; Fertilization; Flagellar motility; Micro-domain; Sea urchin sperm; Sperm chemotaxis.
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