Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

International Journal of Molecular Sciences


Mammalian sperm must undergo two post-testicular processes to become fertilization-competent: maturation in the male epididymis and capacitation in the female reproductive tract. While caput epididymal sperm are unable to move and have not yet acquired fertilization potential, sperm in the cauda epididymis have completed their maturation, can move actively, and have gained the ability to undergo capacitation in the female tract or in vitro. Due to the impossibility of mimicking sperm maturation in vitro, the molecular pathways underlying this process remain largely unknown. We aimed to investigate the use of caput epididymal ligation as a tool for the study of sperm maturation in mice. Our results indicate that after seven days of ligation, caput sperm gained motility and underwent molecular changes comparable with those observed for cauda mature sperm. Moreover, ligated caput sperm were able to activate pathways related to sperm capacitation. Despite these changes, ligated caput sperm were unable to fertilize in vitro. Our results suggest that transit through the epididymis is not required for the acquisition of motility and some capacitation-associated signaling but is essential for full epididymal maturation. Caput epididymal ligation is a useful tool for the study of the molecular pathways involved in the acquisition of sperm motility during maturation.




Special Issue

Mammalian Gametes: Molecular Traits Shaping Their Form and Fate




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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.