Journal article Open Access

Sperm thermotaxis

Bahat, Anat; Eisenbach, Michael

Thermotaxis — movement directed by a temperature gradient — is a prevalent process, found from bacteria to human cells. In the case of mammalian sperm, thermotaxis appears to be an essential mechanism guiding spermatozoa, released from the cooler reservoir site, towards the warmer fertilization site. Only capacitated spermatozoa are thermotactically responsive. Thermotaxis appears to be a long-range guidance mechanism, additional to chemotaxis, which seems to be short-range and likely occurs at close proximity to the oocyte and within the cumulus mass. Both mechanisms probably have a similar function — to guide capacitated, ready-to-fertilize spermatozoa towards the oocyte. The temperature difference between the site of the sperm reservoir and the fertilization site is generated at ovulation by a temperature drop at the former. The molecular mechanism of sperm thermotaxis waits to be revealed.

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