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Solving The Mystery Of What Puts Sperm 'In The Mood'

Date:
April 15, 2009
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
In a potential advance toward a male contraceptive pill and new treatments for infertility, researchers are reporting the identification of key biochemical changes that put sperm "in the mood" for fertilization.

Scientists report advances on understanding capacitation, which help put sperm "in the mood" for fertilization.
Credit: The American Chemical Society

In a potential advance toward a male contraceptive pill and new treatments for infertility, researchers are reporting the identification of key biochemical changes that put sperm "in the mood" for fertilization.

Mark Platt and colleagues note in the new study that sperm cannot fertilize an egg immediately after entering the female reproductive tract. Sperm must acquire this ability after undergoing an activation process called "capacitation." Scientists have known for years that this process involves phosphorylation. That common biological modification causes cellular activities to be turned "on" by the addition of phosphate molecules to certain amino acids within proteins. However, the specific biochemical details have been a deep mystery.

Using laboratory mice, the researchers compared the extent of phosphorylation in both capacitated and noncapacitated sperm samples. They identified 44 peptides exhibiting differential phosphorylation, on 59 specific amino acids, suggesting that modification of these particular sites is essential for the capacitation process. The relative ratio of phosphorylation between the capacitated and noncapacitated samples were also reported, providing the first biochemical description of what puts sperm "in the mood."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Platt et al. Use of Differential Isotopic Labeling and Mass Spectrometry To Analyze Capacitation-Associated Changes in the Phosphorylation Status of Mouse Sperm Proteins. Journal of Proteome Research, 2009; 8 (3): 1431 DOI: 10.1021/pr800796j

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Solving The Mystery Of What Puts Sperm 'In The Mood'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090413102045.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2009, April 15). Solving The Mystery Of What Puts Sperm 'In The Mood'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090413102045.htm
American Chemical Society. "Solving The Mystery Of What Puts Sperm 'In The Mood'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090413102045.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

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