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Successful fertilization

Illustration fluorescence

Fluorescence images of bull spermatozoa bound to bovine epithelial cells grown on plastic (A,B) and polyester membrane (C,D). (Photo: Birgitte Narud)

Identification of biomarkers promoting sperm-oviduct interaction for development of an innovative male fertility test

The aim of this project is to use an innovative approach to generate knowledge about, and identify biomarkers on the sperm surface essential for successful fertilization. The results of the project will be in the scientific front regarding male fertility and can be utilized to develop an innovative fertility test.

There is strong evidence that sperm-oviduct interactions are checkpoints for selection of fertilization competent spermatozoa in mammals. In this project we will use an in vitro model of sperm binding in an oviduct epithelial cell culture system with co-cultured bovine spermatozoa. This will be an important tool to identify macromolecules important for sperm-oviduct interaction and thereby fertilization. We will focus on two groups of macromolecules, glycoproteins and proteoglycans, that are known to influence sperm function in the oviduct.

The project will generate results and knowledge that will increase the competitiveness, and market penetration, of the industrial partners within livestock production (Geno SA, Geno Global AS). The results will be applicable for BioKaptial AS and Spermatech AS (working in the field of human reproduction medicine) for development of a commercial male fertility test. The research group from the University of Oslo has complementary knowledge in the glycoprotein field and the collaboration will generating knowledge transfer between the Inland region and Oslo.

Aim of the project

The main aim is to identify factors essential for sperm binding to oviduct epithelial cells for development of an in vitro sperm fertility test.

Subsidiary goals:

  1. Establish a bovine epithelial cell (BOEC) culture system which can be used in a binding assay for characterization of the correlation between density of sperm-epithelial binding and male fertility.
  2. Characterize apical cell surface and secreted molecules of BOECs with or without estrogen treatment, using the established cell culture system. We will particularly focus on the role of proteoglycans and glycoproteins.
  3. Identify molecules on sperm cells both from bovine and human involved in sperm-oviduct interactions, using the established epithelial cell culture system.
  4. Analyze molecules identified in 2 and 3 in relation to bull fertility.