The acrosome reaction (AR) is a fundamental event for fertilization, which is induced in concert with acrosome reaction-inducing substance (ARIS) and asterosap, both of which are components of starfish egg jelly (EJ). During the AR, a spermatozoon undergoes a series of physiological changes, such as in intracellular cGMP concentration ([cGMP]i), pHi and intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i). Affinity purification of cGMP-binding protein resulted in the isolation of a regulatory subunit of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA), suggesting the involvement of a cAMP-dependent pathway in the AR. By using a cAMP enzyme immunoassay, [cAMP]i was found to increase in starfish spermatozoa when stimulated with ARIS and asterosap. ARIS could also increase the [cAMP]i in the presence of high pH seawater. Pretreatment of spermatozoa with two specific and cell-permeable PKA inhibitors, H89 and KT5720, prevented the induction of the AR in a concentration-dependent manner. These results suggest that PKA activity participates in the induction of the AR with ARIS and asterosap. To investigate this, we have cloned a gene that encodes a regulatory subunit of PKA that had been identified in starfish spermatozoa.