Regulation of Sperm Function by Oviduct Fluid and the Epithelium: Insight into the Role of Glycans

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ContentsIn many vertebrates, females store sperm received at mating in specialized reservoirs until fertilization. In some species, sperm are routinely stored for up to a decade. But the structures used to store sperm vary considerably across taxa, suggesting the underlying mechanisms might be equally variable. In mammals, after mating, sperm pass through the utero-tubal junction and bind to epithelial cells of the oviduct isthmus to form a reservoir. This reservoir regulates sperm function, including viability and capacitation, ultimately affecting sperm lifespan. In addition, sperm binding to oviduct cells influences oviduct cell gene transcription and translation, perhaps to aid sperm storage and fertility. The sperm reservoir allows successful reproduction in species in which semen deposition and ovulation are not always synchronized. The focus of this review is on recent studies of the functions of oviduct fluid and of the adhesion molecules that allow sperm to adhere to the oviduct epithelium. The important of glycans on the oviduct epithelium is highlighted.

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