“Swipe right”: How do sperm find their way to the egg?

Posted in Conception.

The mechanics of the human body are truly amazing, and researchers have further confirmed this with some interesting info on how those swimmers reach their target and fertilise the waiting egg.

Swipe right

Imagine you’re an egg. You’re just hanging around in an ovary when you get the signal to set off. So you roll down the Fallopian tube, full of anticipation and then just sort of hang about.

It’s like being at a bar and waiting for your Tinder date to arrive, if you will. That Tinder date is sperm and scientists now think they know more about what drives the sperm to the bar Fallopian tube to meet its dream date egg.

“Researchers have found that a protein in the cell membranes of sperm plays a key role in how they find their way to eggs,” Science Daily reports.

Not only that, but this protein helps eggs and sperm realise they’re a match species-wise too. 

“The PMCA protein may also help explain how egg cells only interact with sperm from the same species.”

Okayyyyyy. Let’s not get weird, guys.

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Shake a tail feather

It’s not just sperm that is cleverly engineered to meet their eggy match. Egg cells release a chemical which lures the sperm to them too. It’s a titch like Lynx for ladies only the ladies are eggs, if that makes sense.

The GPS-like protein in sperm (aka PMCA) not only helps it find its way to the egg, it affects the way sperm wave their little tails too.

“PMCA is abundant in the tails or flagella membranes of the ascidian sperm,” scientist Professor Manabu Yoshida from the Misaki Marine Biological Station at the University of Tokyo said.

“It binds to the species-specific attractant and alters how the flagella waves, thus directing movement of the sperm cell.”

Shake your flagella membranes, everyone!

But seriously, it’s hoped that this PMCA protein intel may lead to further studies in improving fertility – and hopefully new fertility-promoting drugs.

“Now we know PMCA plays an important part in cellular function. It makes it a promising target for drug research,” Professor Yoshida said.


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