UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS
Before sperm are able to successfully fuse with and fertilize the egg they must successfully migrate through the female reproductive tract and reach the ovulated oocytes. During this migration the sperm undergo Capacitation - defined as the ability to recognize and penetrate the egg coat and then fuse with the egg plasma membrane; uncapacitated sperm are not fertile. Secondly it has been proposed that mammalian sperm display both chemotactic (directional responses) and chemokinetic (increased swimming speeds) in response to ligands secreted by the female reproductive tract or the ovulated oocytes themselves. These tactic responses are believed to be important for efficient fertilization. The ways in which the process of Capacitation interacts with these tactic responses is one of the questions that these experiments are designed to address.