New insights into the molecular mechanisms of sperm-egg interaction

B. Nixon, R. J. Aitken, E. A. McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


At the moment of insemination millions of mammalian sperm cells are released into the female reproductive tract in order to find a single cell - the oocyte. The spermatozoa subsequently ignore the thousands of cells they make contact with during their journey to the site of fertilisation, until they reach the surface of the oocyte. At this point, they bind tenaciously to the acellular coat, known as the zona pellucida, that surrounds the oocyte and initiate the chain of cellular interactions that will culminate in fertilization. These exquisitely cell- and species-specific recognition events are among the most strategically important cellular interactions in biology. Understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underpin them has implications for diagnosis of the aetiology of human infertility and the development of novel targets for fertility regulation. Herein, we describe two models indicating the plethora of highly orchestrated molecular interactions underlying successful sperm zona binding and sperm oocyte fusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1805-1823
Number of pages19
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


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