Chemotaxis refers to a process whereby cells move up or down a chemical gradient. Sperm chemotaxis is known to be a strategy exploited by marine invertebrates such as sea urchins to reach eggs efficiently in moving water. Less is understood about how or whether chemotaxis is used by mammalian sperm to reach eggs, where fertilization takes place within the confinement of a reproductive tract. In this report, we quantitatively assessed sea urchin and mouse sperm chemotaxis using a recently developed microfluidic model and high-speed imaging. Results demonstrated that sea urchin Arbacia punctulata sperm were chemotactic toward the peptide resact with high chemotactic sensitivity, with an average velocity Vx up the chemical gradient as high as 20% of its average speed (238 μm/s), while mouse sperm displayed no statistically significant chemotactic behavior in progesterone gradients, which had been proposed to guide mammalian sperm toward eggs. This work demonstrates the validity of a microfluidic model for quantitative sperm chemotaxis studies, and reveals a biological insight that chemotaxis up a progesterone gradient may not be a universal strategy for mammalian sperm to reach eggs. © 2013 Chang et al.
Chang, H., Kim, B. J., Kim, Y. S., Suarez, S. S., & Wu, M. (2013). Different Migration Patterns of Sea Urchin and Mouse Sperm Revealed by a Microfluidic Chemotaxis Device. PLoS ONE, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0060587