A team from Osaka University has used protein sequence data analysis and genome editing technology to find that protein SPATA33 plays an important role in sperm motility regulation, which could help develop male contraceptives, reports Phys.org. It was previously known that calcineurin, a calcium-dependent phosphatase, plays an important role in regulating sperm motility. Calcineurin is considered a good target for male contraceptives because administration of calcineurin inhibitors to male mice causes reversible infertility in a short period of time. “However, since calcineurin also has an important function in immunity, there is a problem that if calcineurin in immune cells is inhibited, immune function will also be suppressed,” says corresponding author Masahito Ikawa. “Therefore, our goal was to elucidate the mechanism that regulates the function of calcineurin specifically in the sperm. . . . When SPATA33 is knocked out, calcineurin cannot localize to the midpiece of the sperm tail and the midpiece cannot bend, leading to impaired sperm motility.” Targeting SPATA33 may lead to the development of male contraceptives that specifically inhibit calcineurin function in sperm.