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Molecules involved in sperm-oviduct adhesion and release

Talevi, R., Gualtieri, R.
Theriogenology 2010 v.73 no.6 pp. 796-801
spermatozoa, physiological transport, male fertility, viability, capacitation, oviducts, epithelium, biochemical mechanisms, cell physiology, molecular biology, cell adhesion, cell communication, cattle, swine
In mammals, sperm ascension within the female reproductive tract involves a transient adhesion to the caudal isthmus of the oviduct. Sperm adhesion to this specialized region, which is termed the “oviductal reservoir”, extends the sperm fertile life span by delaying capacitation until, around ovulation, specific signals induce sperm release. In vivo and in vitro studies demonstrated that carbohydrates on the oviductal cell apical membranes and lectin-like molecules on the rostral sperm surface are involved in adhesion in a species-specific way. In this respect, the most intensely studied species are pigs and cattle. On the other hand, less is known about molecules involved in sperm release. Direct evidence that molecules present in the oviductal fluid trigger the release of sperm bound to in vitro cultured oviductal epithelium has been provided only in cattle. However, the identity of sperm and/or oviductal molecules that respond to these releasing signals is still unknown. The comprehension of molecular mechanisms underlying sperm-oviduct interaction may advance our understanding of the behavior of sperm within the female reproductive tract and provide new tools for sperm selection, extension of fertile life and modulation of capacitation in the field of reproductive biotechnologies. The aim of the present paper is to review the available knowledge on molecules involved in sperm selection, storage and release from the oviductal reservoir.