Author(s): TpferPetersen E, Wagner A, Friedrich J, Petrunkina A, EkhlasiHundrieser M
Sperm are stored in the isthmic region of the oviduct under conditions that maintain sperm viability and suppress motility. This region is also the site in which essential steps of the capacitation process are coordinated with the appearance of the ovulated egg. The influx of Ca(2+) and phosphorylation of sperm proteins are features of the ongoing capacitation process. Using a cell-culture system of oviductal epithelial cells, it was found that sperm bound to the epithelial cells showed a reduced Ca(2+) uptake and almost no tyrosine phosphorylation as shown by indirect immunofluorescence. Furthermore, sperm viability, measured as membrane integrity with propidium iodide, is significantly prolonged as compared to sperm in suspension. The formation of the sperm reservoir appears to be mediated by carbohydrate-protein interaction. In the pig, it has been found that mannosyl-oligosaccharides exposed by the epithelial cells are high-affinity ligands for sperm-associated lectins. Ovalbumin and mannopentaose are effective inhibitors of sperm binding to explants of oviductal epithelium. Spermadhesins, a new class of animal lectins and the major secretory products of the porcine seminal vesicle, associate with the sperm surface at ejaculation and are candidate molecules for the receptors of the epithelial carbohydrates.