Physiological and proteomic approaches to studying prefertilization events in the human
This research aims firstly to understand, in cellular and molecular terms, how a mature human spermatozoon is prepared for fertilization, and secondly, to identify what factors are involved in the initial signalling interactions between the egg and spermatozoon. In order to achieve these objectives, a combination of approaches is being used, including single-cell imaging, patch clamping and proteomics. Single-cell imaging reveals hidden complexity and heterogeneity in signalling responses in spermatozoa. Characterization of cell physiology at the single-cell level must be a future aim, including the study of ion channel expression and function by patch clamping. Proteomic experiments are aimed at identifying defects in protein expression in specific subgroups of men, e.g. those with globozoospermia. A better understanding of prefertilization events will allow the development of non-assisted reproductive therapy, drug-based treatments for male infertility.