Nav: Home

Fertility can hinge on swimming conditions in the uterus

April 19, 2017

PULLMAN, Wash.--For a mammal's sperm to succeed, it must complete the swim of its life to reach and fertilize an egg. That's easier if it swims through water, not goo.

It turns out that both the male and female have a role in making that happen.

A Washington State University researcher has found that the uterus in female mice contains enzymes that can break down semen, making it less gel-like, more watery, and therefore easier to swim in. Scientists have previously thought semen is broken down by enzymes from the prostate gland.

But writing this week in the journal PLOS Genetics, Wipawee Winuthayanon, an assistant professor in WSU's School of Molecular Biosciences, reports that female mice also produce the enzyme, using estrogen to induce the process. They also saw that when a female mouse lacked a gene to make this happen, semen failed to liquefy in its uterus.

"Our studies provide the first evidence of how the interplay between semen and the female reproductive tract could impact fertility," the researchers write.

The study highlights an underappreciated complication in the physical changes that semen undergoes and the relative roles of secretions in both the male and female reproductive tracts.

"This information will advance research on semen liquefaction in the female reproductive tract, an area that has never been explored," said the researchers, "and could lead to the development of diagnostic tools for unexplained infertility cases and non-invasive contraception technologies."

Winuthayanon's colleagues on the study are post-doctoral research associate Shuai Li, honors student Marleny Garcia and research assistant Rachel L. Gewiss.
-end-


Washington State University

Related Enzymes Articles:

How nature builds hydrogen-producing enzymes
A team from Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the University of Oxford has discovered how hydrogen-producing enzymes, called hydrogenases, are activated during their biosynthesis.
New family on the block: A novel group of glycosidic enzymes
A group of researchers from Japan has recently discovered a novel enzyme from a soil fungus.
Surprising enzymes found in giant ocean viruses
A new study led by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Swansea University Medical School furthers our knowledge of viruses -- in the sea and on land -- and their potential to cause life-threatening illnesses.
How host-cell enzymes combat the coronavirus
Host-cell enzymes called PARP12 and PARP14 are important for inhibiting mutant forms of a coronavirus, according to a study published May 16 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Stanley Perlman of the University of Iowa, Anthony Fehr of the University of Kansas, and colleagues.
New method enables 'photographing' of enzymes
Scientists at the University of Bonn have developed a method with which an enzyme at work can be 'photographed'.
Everyday enzymes, now grown in plants
Whether we know it or not, enzymes play a role in a range of everyday products, from orange juice to denim jeans.
Balance of two enzymes linked to pancreatic cancer survival
UC San Diego School of Medicine research sets the stage for clinicians to potentially one day use levels of a pancreatic cancer patient's PHLPP1 and PKC enzymes as a prognostic, and for researchers to develop new therapeutic drugs that inhibit PHLPP1 and boost PKC as a means to treat the disease.
Biologists have studied enzymes that help wheat to fight fungi
Scientists from I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University together with their Russian colleagues studied reaction of wheat plants to damage caused by pathogenic fungi.
Scientists developed enzymes with remote control
Scientists developed a method to enhance the activity of enzymes by using radio frequency radiation.
Enzymes in the cross-hairs
More and more bacteria are resistant to available antibiotics. A team of chemists from the Technical University of Munich now presents a new approach: they have identified important enzymes in the metabolism of staphylococci.
More Enzymes News and Enzymes Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#540 Specialize? Or Generalize?
Ever been called a "jack of all trades, master of none"? The world loves to elevate specialists, people who drill deep into a single topic. Those people are great. But there's a place for generalists too, argues David Epstein. Jacks of all trades are often more successful than specialists. And he's got science to back it up. We talk with Epstein about his latest book, "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.