Cleavage of SPACA1 regulates assembly of sperm-egg membrane fusion machinery in mature spermatozoa†

Biol Reprod. 2020 Mar 13;102(3):750-757. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioz223.


The acrosome reaction is a multi-step event essential for physiological fertilization. During the acrosome reaction, gamete fusion-related factor IZUMO1 translocates from the anterior acrosome to the equatorial segment and assembles the gamete fusion machinery. The morphological changes in the acrosome reaction process have been well studied, but little is known about the molecular mechanisms of acrosome reorganization essential for physiological gamete membrane fusion. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms of IZUMO1 translocation, the steps of the acrosome reaction during that process must be clarified. In this study, we established a method to detect the early steps of the acrosome reaction and subdivided the process into seven populations through the use of two epitope-defined antibodies, anti-IZUMO1 and anti-SPACA1, a fertilization-inhibiting antibody. We found that part of the SPACA1 C-terminus in the periacrosomal space was cleaved and had begun to disappear when the vesiculation of the anterior acrosome occurred. The IZUMO1 epitope externalized from the acrosomal lumen before acrosomal vesiculation and phosphorylation of IZUMO1 occurred during the translocation to the equatorial segment. IZUMO1 circumvented the area of the equatorial segment where the SPACA1C-terminus was still localized. We therefore propose an IZUMO1 translocation model and involvement of SPACA1.

Keywords: IZUMO1; SPACA1; acrosome reaction; outer acrosomal membrane; sperm capacitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Epitopes / metabolism
  • Isoantigens / genetics
  • Isoantigens / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Membrane Fusion / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Oocytes / metabolism*
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins / genetics
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sperm Capacitation / physiology
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*


  • Epitopes
  • Isoantigens
  • SPACA1 protein, mouse
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins