The acrosome reaction is the regulated exocytosis of mammalian sperm's single secretory granule, essential for fertilization. It relies on small GTPases, the cAMP binding protein Epac, and the SNARE complex, among other components. Here, we describe a novel tool to investigate Rab27-related signaling pathways: a hybrid recombinant protein consisting of human Rab27A fused to TAT, a cell penetrating peptide. With this tool, we aimed to unravel the connection between Rab3, Rab27 and Rap1 in sperm exocytosis and to deepen our understanding about how isoprenylation and guanine nucleotides influence the behaviour of Rab27 in exocytosis. Our results show that TAT-Rab27A-GTP-γ-S permeated into live sperm and triggered acrosomal exocytosis per se when geraylgeranylated but inhibited it when not lipid-modified. Likewise, an impermeant version of Rab27A elicited exocytosis in streptolysin O-permeabilized — but not in non-permeabilized — cells when geranylgeranylated and active. When GDP-β-S substituted for GTP-γ-S, isoprenylated TAT-Rab27A inhibited the acrosome reaction triggered by progesterone and an Epac-selective cAMP analogue, whereas the non-isoprenylated protein did not. Geranylgeranylated TAT-Rab27A-GTP-γ-S promoted the exchange of GDP for GTP on Rab3 and Rap1 detected by far-immunofluorescence with Rab3-GTP and Rap1-GTP binding cassettes. In contrast, TAT-Rab27A lacking isoprenylation or loaded with GDP-β-S prevented the activation of Rab3 and Rap1 elicited by progesterone. Challenging streptolysin O-permeabilized human sperm with calcium increased the population of sperm with Rap1-GTP, Rab3-GTP and Rab27-GTP in the acrosomal region; pretreatment with anti-Rab27 antibodies prevented the activation of all three. The novel findings reported here include: the description of membrane permeant TAT-Rab27A as a trustworthy tool to unveil the regulation of the human sperm acrosome reaction by Rab27 under physiological conditions; that the activation of endogenous Rab27 is required for that of Rab3 and Rap1; and the connection between Epac and Rab27 and between Rab27 and the configuration of the SNARE complex. Moreover, we present direct evidence that Rab27A's lipid modification, and activation/inactivation status correlate with its stimulatory or inhibitory roles in exocytosis.
Cellular Signalling – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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