A broken tail softens sperm’s punch

Photo credit: istockphoto.com

Fertility, it turns out, depends in part on a sperm’s ability to use its tail to move through fluids and navigate the female oviduct. Researchers at Yale and Harvard have identified a mechanism of this navigational system that when disabled reduces male fertility.

The scientists targeted a subunit of an ion channel complex that lines the sperm’s tail and helps direct sperm on their journey. Removing this single gene in mice disrupted the ion channel complex and reduced the sperm’s ability to navigate, according to the report published in the journal eLife in February.

These findings could help with treatments for male infertility or provide a target for development of male contraceptives, said lead author Jean-Ju L. Chung, Ph.D., assistant professor of cellular and molecular physiology.


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