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Volume 13, Issue 3 (May 2011) 13, 420–423; 10.1038/aja.2011.10

Redox regulation of fertilisation and the spermatogenic process

Junichi Fujii1,2,3 and Satoshi Tsunoda1

1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Graduate School of Medical Science, Yamagata University, Yamagata 990-9585, Japan
2 Respiratory and Cardiovascular Diseases Research Center, Research Institute for Advanced Molecular Epidemiology, Yamagata University, Yamagata 990-9585, Japan
3 Global COE Program for Medical Sciences, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, Japan

Correspondence: Professor J Fujii, (jfujii@med.id.yamagata-u.ac.jp)

Received 31 2010; Revised 22 October 2010; Accepted 25 2011; Published online 4 April 2011.


Oxidative stress is one of the major causes of male infertility; it damages spermatogenic cells, the spermatogenic process and sperm function. Recent advances in redox biology have revealed the signalling role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are generated by cells. While highly reactive oxidants, such as the hydroxyl radical, exert largely deleterious effects, hydrogen peroxide can feasibly serve as a signal mediator because it is moderately reactive and membrane permeable and because it can oxidize only limited numbers of functional groups of biological molecules. The amino acid side chain most sensitive to oxidation is cysteine sulphydryl, which is commonly involved in the catalysis of some enzymes. Although the reactivity of cysteine sulphhydryl is not very high in ordinary proteins, some phosphatases possess a highly reactive sulphydryl group at their catalytic centre and are thereby oxidatively inactivated by transiently elevated hydrogen peroxide levels after extracellular stimuli and under certain environmental conditions. Peroxiredoxins, in turn, show moderate hydrogen peroxide-reducing activity, and their role in the modulation of ROS-mediated signal transduction in ordinary cells, mediated by protecting phosphatases from oxidative inactivation, has attracted much attention. Although knowledge of the signalling role of ROS in the male reproductive system is limited at present, its significance is becoming a focal issue. Here, we present a review of the emerging signalling role of hydrogen peroxide in testes.

Keywords: hydrogen peroxide; oxidative stress; peroxiredoxin; signal transduction

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