Discovery and Characterization of Multiple Classes of Human CatSper Blockers

ChemMedChem. 2022 Aug 3;17(15):e202000499. doi: 10.1002/cmdc.202000499. Epub 2022 Jun 14.


The cation channel of sperm (CatSper) is a validated target for nonhormonal male contraception, but it lacks selective blockers, hindering studies to establish its role in both motility and capacitation. Via an innovative calcium uptake assay utilizing human sperm we discovered novel inhibitors of CatSper function from a high-throughput screening campaign of 72,000 compounds. Preliminary SAR was established for seven hit series. HTS hits or their more potent analogs blocked potassium-induced depolarization and noncompetitively inhibited progesterone-induced CatSper activation. CatSper channel blockade was confirmed by patch clamp electrophysiology and these compounds inhibited progesterone- and prostaglandin E1-induced hyperactivated sperm motility. One of the hit compounds is a potent CatSper inhibitor with high selectivity for CatSper over hCav1.2, hNav1.5, moderate selectivity over hSlo3 and hERG, and low cytotoxicity and is therefore the most promising inhibitor identified in this study. These new CatSper blockers serve as useful starting points for chemical probe development and drug discovery efforts.

Keywords: cation channel of sperm; electrophysiology; inhibitors; selectivity; sperm motility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels* / metabolism
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Progesterone / metabolism
  • Progesterone / pharmacology
  • Semen / metabolism
  • Sperm Motility*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism


  • Calcium Channels
  • Progesterone
  • Calcium