Roles of the reproductive tract in modifications of the sperm membrane surface

Yu-Wen Kuo, Sheng-Hsiang Li, Kei-Ichiro Maeda, Bart Gadella, Pei-Shiue J Tsai

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Successful fertilization requires viable and functional spermatozoa to recognize and fuse with the oocyte. In most mammalian species, mature spermatozoa are not capable of fertilizing the oocytes immediately after ejaculation. However, unlike somatic cells, spermatozoa, after leaving the testis, are transcriptionally and translationally silent; therefore, upon completion of spermiogenesis, spermatozoa carry only a minimal amount of essential proteins on their membranes as well as within their restricted volume of cytoplasm. To develop into a fully functional and competent sperm that is capable of successful fertilization, modifications of the sperm membrane surface during its transit in the reproductive tracts is critical. These post-spermatogenesis modifications advance the maturation of epididymal spermatozoa. In addition, components secreted into the lumen of the reproductive tracts that are later added onto the sperm membrane surface also regulate (inhibit or activate) the functions of the spermatozoa. This acquisition of additional proteins from the reproductive tracts may compensate for the inactivity of morphologically mature spermatozoa. In this review, we discuss the contributions of the male and female genital tracts to modifications of the sperm membrane surface at different stages of fertilization.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)337-343
    JournalJournal of Reproduction and Development
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Fertilization
    • Membrane modification
    • Reproductive tract
    • Sperm


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