The sperm of the freshwater clam Corbicula fluminea are unusual in that they have two flagella, both of which are capable of beating. When Corbicula sperm are removed from the gonad and placed into freshwater, most remain immotile. Video microscopy was used to assess signaling molecules capable of activating Corbicula sperm motility. Experiments using the cAMP analogs dbcAMP or 8-Br-cAMP show that elevating cAMP activates flagellar motility. Treatments with 8-Br-cGMP activated motility in similar numbers of sperm. Treatments with the selective cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) inhibitor H-89 block activation by 8-Br-cAMP but not by 8-Br-cGMP. Similar treatments with the cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG) inhibitor Rp-8-pCPT-cGMPS block activation by 8-Br-cGMP but not by 8-Br-cAMP. These results suggest that cAMP and cGMP each work through their specific kinase to activate flagellar motility. Analysis of spontaneously activated freely swimming sperm shows that the two flagella beat with different parameters. The A flagellum beats with a shorter wavelength and a higher frequency than the B flagellum. The observed differences in flagellar waveform indicate that the flagella are differentially controlled.
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