Dynamic elementomics of single-cell ICP–MS-derived signals in normal and calcium pump PMCA4-deficient mouse epididymal sperm during capacitation

Currently, clinical analysis of male infertility mainly relies on parameters of semen and sperm cells. However, the high diagnostic failure rates indicate that the current assessment methods are not sufficient and a new approach to evaluating sperm function still needs to be developed. Here we explored the feasibility of single-cell inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (sc-ICP–MS)-derived profiles to determine the elemental characteristics in viable capacitated sperm under normal and deficient conditions. To validate the measurements, we used male sterile Pmca4-knockout (KO) mice with impaired calcium clearance, known to be dysregulated due to loss of calcium efflux capacity during sperm capacitation. Consistently, we observed significantly increased calcium intensities in Pmca4-KO sperm upon capacitation stimulation compared with control sperm from the caudaepididymides of wild-type control (WT) mice. More importantly, we explored that the characteristic signatures of calcium intensities in individual spikes derived from sc-ICP–MS was consistent with the dynamics of relative calcium levels in single sperm reported in the literature. Prominent alterations were also observed in the dynamic signatures of sc-ICP–MS-derived profiles of essential elements, particularly the redox-labile elements including copper, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc in Pmca4-KO sperm compared to WT controls. Therefore, our study demonstrates that elementomics of sc-ICP–MS-derived signals can reveal ionic dysregulation in plasma membrane Ca2+-ATPase isoform 4 protein deficient sperm, and that sc-ICP–MS assay can be applied for functional analysis of viable sperm in functional activities, such as capacitation stimulation. We propose that cell elementomics can be used as an alternative approach to assessing sperm quality and male fertility at the single-cell level. Graphical Abstract available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/mtomcs/mfad059
This article has been accepted for publication in Metallomics Published by Oxford University Press. The version of record is available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/mtomcs/mfad059. © The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press. This article will be embargoed until 10/16/2024.
Bao Li Zhang, Ze Peng Zhang, Su Meng Shi, Hui Juan Shi, Patricia A DeLeon, Winnie Shum, Dynamic elementomics of single-cell ICP–MS-derived signals in normal and calcium pump PMCA4-deficient mouse epididymal sperm during capacitation, Metallomics, Volume 15, Issue 10, October 2023, mfad059, https://doi.org/10.1093/mtomcs/mfad059