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J Reprod Immunol. 2002 Jan;53(1-2):121-31.

Signal transduction pathways in human spermatozoa.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Fisiopatologia Clinica, Unità di Andrologia, Universita' di Firenze, viale Pieraccini 6, I-50139 Florence, Italy.


Following ejaculation, sperm functions are regulated by interactions with the environment found in the female genital tract. Here spermatozoa become 'capacitated' (i.e. they acquire the capability of completing the acrosome reaction and successfully fertilizing the egg), through a series of surface and intracellular transformations occurring during a process known as capacitation. The limited number of spermatozoa that eventually reach the oocyte must then cross the surrounding cumulus cells before contacting the zona pellucida, undergoing the acrosome reaction and finally fertilizing the oocyte. All the interactions between sperm and their diverse environments are mediated by intracellular signaling pathways. Virtually all the signaling systems known to operate in somatic cells, with the exception of those implying nuclear activity, have been found in spermatozoa, although in some cases the function(s) of the pathway has not been clearly proved.

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