As a second messenger in cellular signal transduction, calcium signaling extensively participates in various physiological activities, including spermatogenesis and the regulation of sperm function. Abnormal calcium signaling is highly correlated with male infertility. Calcium signaling is mainly regulated by both extracellular calcium influx and the release of calcium stores. Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R) is a widely expressed channel for calcium stores. After being activated by inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) and calcium signaling at a lower concentration, IP3R can regulate the release of Ca2+
from stores into cytoplasm, and eventually trigger downstream events. The closure of the IP3R channel caused by a rise in intracellular calcium signals and the activation of the calcium pump jointly restores the calcium store to a normal level. In this review, we aim to discuss structural features of IP3R channels and the underlying mechanism of IP3R channel-mediated calcium signaling and further focus on the research progress of IP3R expression and function in the male reproductive system. Finally, we propose key directions and strategies for research of IP3R in spermatogenesis and the regulation of sperm function to provide more understanding of the function and mechanism of IP3R channel actions in male reproduction.
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