The team, in collaboration with Charles University, Prague, found that field mice sacrifice some of their immunity protection in favour of a more rapid fertilisation process. This occurs due to the absence of a protein, called CD46. Present in both animals and humans, it helps protect the body’s cells from attack by its immune system. Over time, field mice have lost the ability to produce this protein, resulting in instability of a cap-like structure, called the acrosome, present over the head of the sperm.
This instability allows the acrosome to be shed from the sperm head to create a new surface essential for sperm to be capable of fusing with an egg. This is a natural process that can take days to occur in humans, but field mice have developed a way in which this can occur rapidly.
Immunologist, Professor Peter Johnson, explains: “Field mice have traded the production of an immunologically important protein in favour of this faster fertilization process in order to compete with other mice more successfully. Female mice produce multiple eggs and if there are a lot of male mice competing for her, then it is an advantage to an individual mouse for its sperm to react quickly in order to beat other male competitors to fertilisation.”
“By improving our understanding of defects in CD46 we may improve treatments for infertility in men. Humans normally produce a single egg each month and there is no evolutionary necessity to develop rapid sperm reaction to egg fertilisation. The process is therefore much slower and so any defect in CD46 could result in sperm being destabilised too early.
“Interestingly the rapid reaction caused in mice is similar to that in IVF treatment in humans where the acronome is artificially expelled from the sperm head before it is introduced to the egg to speed up the fertilisation process. Field mice appear to do this naturally.”
Samantha Martin | EurekAlert!
Molecular doorstop could be key to new tuberculosis drugs
20.03.2018 | Rockefeller University
Modified biomaterials self-assemble on temperature cues
20.03.2018 | Duke University
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.
In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences