The nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) is one of the receptors of acetylcholine (ACh), and nicotine (NIC) acts as an agonist of this receptor. Among the nAChR subunits, we found that the ε subunit (AChRe) had approximately 10 to 1000 times higher level of mRNA expression in mouse testes than the other subunits. In this study, we aimed to elucidate the expression and localization of AChRe in the testes and spermatozoa of mice and clarify the effect of AChRe on sperm function. Immunocytochemistry showed that AChRe was expressed in the murine testes and spermatozoa. We found that AChRe was localized only in elongated spermatids from step 12 onwards in the testes. In spermatozoa, AChRe was localized in the head, especially in the anterior region of the acrosome, but only approximately 50% of spermatozoa showed this immunoreactivity. Additionally, we analyzed the effects of ACh and NIC on sperm acrosome reaction (AR) and found that both ACh and NIC suppressed the AR rate, which was restored by an AChRe-specific antagonist. These results suggest that AChRe may be a regulator of mammalian sperm AR.
- Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
- Sperm acrosome reaction