GTP-bound Rab3A exhibits consecutive positive and negative roles during human sperm dense-core granule exocytosis

Matías A. Bustos, Carlos M. Roggero, Paola X. De La Iglesia, Luis S. Mayorga, Claudia N. Tomes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Exocytosis of mammalian sperm dense-core secretory granule relies on the same fusion molecules as all other secretory cells; one such molecule is the small GTPase Rab3A. Here, we report an in-depth biochemical characterization of the role of Rab3A in secretion by scrutinizing the exocytotic response of streptolysin O-permeabilized human sperm to the acute application of a number of Rab3A-containing constructs and correlating the findings with those gathered with the endogenous protein. Full length, geranylgeranylated, and active Rab3A elicited human sperm exocytosis per se. With Rab3A/Rab22A chimeric proteins, we demonstrated that the carboxy-terminal domain of the Rab3A molecule was necessary and sufficient to promote exocytosis, whereas its amino-terminus prevented calcium-triggered secretion. Interestingly, full length Rab3A halted secretion when added after the docking of the acrosome to the plasma membrane. This effect depended on the inability of Rab3A to hydrolyze GTP. We combined modified immunofluorescence and acrosomal staining protocols to detect membrane fusion and the activation status of endogenous Rab3 simultaneously in individual cells, and found that GTP hydrolysis on endogenous Rab3 was mandatory for fusion pores to open. Our findings contribute to establishing that Rab3 modulates regulated exocytosis differently depending on the nucleotide bound and the exocytosis stage under study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-298
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of molecular cell biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • GTP hydrolysis
  • Rab3 cycle
  • acrosome
  • calcium
  • exocytosis
  • sperm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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