Scientists study how sperm get into an egg

Feb 08, 2006

Scientists from Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland say they've identified a key component of the mechanism spermatozoa use to enter an egg.

The researchers wanted to know how sperm abruptly convert their tail motion from a steady swimming undulation to the whip-cracking snap that thrusts them into an egg. The finding might help scientists both recognize new forms of male infertility, as well as design new contraceptives to thwart sperm entry into the egg.

Investigator David Clapham and colleagues said it has long been known a spermatozoa's arrival in the alkaline environment of the female reproductive tract triggers its tail's whip like motion, called hyperactivation. Now the researchers have identified the major component of the calcium ion channel responsible for alkaline-activated hyperactivation and male fertility.

Clapham said the research represents the beginning of an important new research pathway.

"No one had ever seen inside sperm cells to measure all the currents that control their activity," he said. "We are already measuring many of these currents and beginning to answer questions about what they are and what they do."

The study appears in the current issue of the journal Nature.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Explainer: How to solve a jewel heist (and why it takes so long)

Related Stories

Team science is better science

24 minutes ago

A Michigan State University researcher helped write a groundbreaking new report from the National Research Council that concludes scientific research is increasingly dominated by teams - a promising approach ...

Forecasting future infectious disease outbreaks

45 minutes ago

Machine learning can pinpoint rodent species that harbor diseases andgeographic hotspots vulnerable to new parasites and pathogens. So reportsa new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences led by ...

Recommended for you

Top UK scientists warn against EU exit

19 hours ago

A group of leading British scientists including Nobel-winning geneticist Paul Nurse warned leaving the European Union could threaten research funding, in a letter published in The Times newspaper on Friday.

How we discovered the three revolutions of American pop

19 hours ago

Dr Matthias Mauch discusses his recent scientific analysis of the "fossil record" of the Billboard charts prompted widespread attention, particularly the findings about the three musical "revolutions" that shaped the musical la ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.