A protein called CatSper1 may act as a molecular ‘barcode’ that helps determine which sperm cells will make it to an egg and which are eliminated along the way.
The findings in mice, published recently in eLife, have important implications for understanding the selection process that sperm cells undergo after they enter the female reproductive tract, a key step in reproduction. Learning more about these processes could lead to the development of new approaches to treating infertility.
“Male mammals ejaculate millions of sperm cells into the female’s reproductive tract, but only a few arrive at the egg,” explains senior author Jean-Ju Chung, Assistant Professor of Cellular & Molecular Physiology at Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, US. “This suggests that sperm cells are selected as they travel through the tract and excess cells are eliminated. But most of our knowledge about fertilisation in mammals has come from studying