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Important fertility mechanism discovered
Date:4/24/2013

stigating. The protease ovastacin is stored in vesicles within the egg cell and when the first sperm penetrates the ovum, the protease is explosively discharged into the gap between the egg cell and the zona pellucida in what is known as the cortical reaction.

However, small amounts of ovastacin continually seep from unfertilized egg cells and this would cause the zona to harden before the first sperm can penetrate. "It is the role of fetuin-B to ensure that these constantly escaping small quantities of ovastacin are inactivated so that oocytes can be fertilized," Stcker added. "However, once a sperm has penetrated an egg cell, the cortical reaction will be unleashed and the amount of ovastacin will overwhelm the inhibition capacity of fetuin-B and initiate the hardening process."

This is the first time that it has been shown that premature hardening of the zona pellucida can be a cause of infertility. It is thus possible that this could represent the basis for the development of future forms of infertility treatment.


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Contact: Dr. Walter Stöcker
stoecker@uni-mainz.de
49-613-139-24273
Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz
Source:Eurekalert

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