The G protein-coupled receptor kinase type 4 mediates the homologous desensitisation of type-1 metabotropic glutamate (mGlu1) receptors and is predominantly expressed in the testis. Hence, we searched for the expression of mGlu1 or other mGlu receptor subtypes in rat and human testes. RT-PCR analysis showed the presence of mGlu1, -4 and -5 (but not -2 or -3) receptor mRNA in the rat testis. The presence of mGlu1 and -5 (but not mGlu2/3) receptor proteins was also demonstrated by Western blot analysis. In the rat testis, both mGlu1a and -5 receptors were highly expressed in cells of the germinal line. It is likely that these receptors are functional, because the agonist, (1S,3R)-1-aminocyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid, was able to stimulate inositol phospholipid hydrolysis in slices prepared from rat testes. Immunocytochemical analysis of bioptic samples from human testes showed a high expression of mGlu5 receptors inside the seminiferous tubuli, whereas mGlu1a immunoreactivity was restricted to intertubular spaces. mGlu5 receptors were also present in mature spermatozoa, where they were localised in the mid-piece and tail. This localisation coincided with that of β-arrestin, a protein that is critically involved in the homologous desensitisation and internalisation of G protein-coupled receptors. Taken collectively, these results offer the first evidence for the expression of any glutamate receptor in testes, and suggest that at least mGlu5 receptors are present and functionally active in mature human sperm.
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