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19 August 2011

Sticky egg catches the sperm

Researchers have uncovered exactly how a human egg captures an incoming sperm to begin the fertilisation process.

Researchers have uncovered exactly how a human egg captures an incoming sperm to begin the fertilisation process, as reported in a new study published this week in the journal Science.

The international team, from the University of Missouri, the University of Hong Kong, Academia Sinica in Taiwan and Imperial College London, discovered that the sugar chain known as the sialyl-lewis-x sequence (SLeX) is highly abundant on the surface of the human egg. After experimenting with a range of synthesised sugars in the laboratory they went on to show that SLeX specifically binds sperm to an egg, and tested their findings, using the outer coats of unfertilised 'non-living' human eggs.

 
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