Egg meets sperm: The female side of the story
Stockholm - Swedish researchers have unravelled the three-dimensional structure of the egg receptor, paving the way for new treatments of infertility and novel contraceptives. The team headed by Luca Jovine at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm identified the molecular details of the ZP3 receptor that binds sperm in the zona pellucida at the start of fertilisation. The structure of ZP3 suggests which parts are likely to be directly contacted by sperm, and provides new insights into how the sperm receptor is assembled and secreted from the egg and thus which mutation might lead to infertility. The research could also potentially lead to the design of non-hormonal contraceptives specifically targeting egg-sperm interaction. "The next step will be to tackle the corresponding molecules on sperm that allow it to bind to the egg," said Jovine.