The Catsper channel is a sperm-specific, Ca2+-permeable, pH-dependent, and low voltage-dependent channel that is essential for the hyperactivity of sperm flagellum, chemotaxis towards the egg, capacitation and acrosome reaction. All of these physiological events require calcium entry into sperm cells. Remarkably, Catsper genes are exclusively expressed in the testis during spermatogenesis, and are sensitive to ion channel-induced pH change, such as NHEs, Ca2+ATPase, K+ channel, Hv1 channel and HCO3- transporters. Furthermore, the Catsper channel is regulated by some physiological stimulants, such as progesterone, cyclic nucleotides (e.g., cAMP, cGMP), zona pellucida (ZP) glycoproteins and bovine serum albumin (BSA). All of these factors normally stimulate Ca2+ entry into sperm through the Catsper channel. In addition, the Catsper channel may be a potential target for male infertility treatment or contraception. This review will focus on the structure, functions, regulation mechanisms and medicinal targets of the Catsper channel.
Keywords: Ca2+ signal; Catsper channel; Male infertility; Medicine.