PerspectiveCell Biology

A Universal Bicarbonate Sensor

Science  28 Jul 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5479, pp. 559-560
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5479.559

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The life-span of sperm may be short but it is certainly busy. The three principal molecular events that prepare sperm for fertilization are all controlled by the intracellular nucleotide adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cAMP). One of these, capacitation, is also regulated by bicarbonate ions. The elusive connection between cAMP and bicarbonate ions now appears to be solved as Kaupp and Weyand explain in their Perspective. Bicarbonate ions enter sperm through the anion transporter in the sperm plasma membrane and activate the soluble form of adenylyl cyclase, the enzyme that synthesizes cAMP ( Chen et al.)