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J Cell Physiol. 2008 Dec;217(3):745-51. doi: 10.1002/jcp.21549.

Comparison of glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation as energy sources for mammalian sperm motility, using the combination of fluorescence imaging, laser tweezers, and real-time automated tracking and trapping.

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Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92039, USA.


The combination of laser tweezers, fluorescent imaging, and real-time automated tracking and trapping (RATTS) can measure sperm swimming speed and swimming force simultaneously with mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP). This approach is used to study the roles of two sources of ATP in sperm motility: oxidative phosphorylation, which occurs in the mitochondria located in the sperm midpiece and glycolysis, which occurs along the length of the sperm tail (flagellum). The relationships between (a) swimming speed and MMP and (b) swimming force and MMP are studied in dog and human sperm. The effects of glucose, oxidative phosphorylation inhibitors and glycolytic inhibitors on human sperm motility are examined. The results indicate that oxidative phosphorylation does contribute some ATP for human sperm motility, but not enough to sustain high motility. The glycolytic pathway is shown to be a primary source of energy for human sperm motility.

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