Adenine Nucleotide Metabolism and a Role for AMP in Modulating Flagellar Waveforms in Mouse Sperm1

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While most ATP, the main energy source driving sperm motility, is derived from glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation, the metabolic demands of the cell require the efficient use of power stored in high-energy phosphate bonds. In times of high energy consumption, adenylate kinase (AK) scavenges one ATP molecule by transphosphorylation of two molecules of ADP, simultaneously yielding one molecule of AMP as a by-product. Either ATP or ADP supported motility of detergent-modeled cauda epididymal mouse sperm, indicating that flagellar AKs are functional. However, the ensuing flagellar waveforms fueled by ATP or ADP were qualitatively different. Motility driven by ATP was rapid but restricted to the distal region of the sperm tail, whereas ADP produced slower and more fluid waves that propagated down the full flagellum. Characterization of wave patterns by tracing and superimposing the images of the flagella, quantifying the differences using digital image analysis, and computer-assisted sperm analysis revealed differences in the amplitude, periodicity, and propagation of the waves between detergent-modeled sperm treated with either ATP or ADP. Surprisingly, addition of AMP to the incubation medium containing ATP recapitulated the pattern of sperm motility seen with ADP alone. In addition to AK1 and AK2, which we previously demonstrated are present in outer dense fibers and mitochondrial sheath of the mouse sperm tail, we show that another AK, AK8, is present in a third flagellar compartment, the axoneme. These results extend the known regulators of sperm motility to include AMP, which may be operating through an AMP-activated protein kinase.

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