Science2014-06-10 3:42 PM

费洛蒙在指引精子到达卵细胞的路径中发挥作用 Neurosensory Perception of Environmental Cues Modulates Sperm Motility Critical for Fertilization

论文摘要 

精子在做前往雌性卵子的长距离艰巨旅行时需要有路径指示,而一项新的研究提示,由雌性动物鼻子所嗅到的空气中的费洛蒙可确保这些路径指示会出现。雌性动物具有强大的嗅觉,它们能够探测到一大批分子,其中包括被称作费洛蒙的物种内信号分子。但研究人员想知道这些对气味的感觉究竟有多强以及它是如何影响配子功能和生育能力的。 

如今,Katherine McKnight及其同事通过研究秀丽隐杆线虫这种线虫而对此有所了解。以往的研究显示,秀丽隐杆线虫鼻子中的神经元可觉察到费洛蒙信号。McKnight等人聚焦于该线虫的感知通路并发现它会改变雌性线虫生殖道中的脂肪代谢。食物中脂肪所衍生的被称作前列腺素的信号分子对生殖是至关重要的,它们能帮助进入雌性生殖道的精子向受精部位移动。当线虫鼻子中的神经元感觉到费洛蒙时,这些所谓的精子路径指示的浓度可得到提升;这种情况之所以发生是因为费洛蒙可帮助将该通路中的食物脂肪转变成为前列腺素分子。 

研究人员在秀丽隐杆线虫中显示,当环境中的费洛蒙低于某特定水平,前列腺素水平会下降,而精子会迷失方向,使其无法到达受精据点。 

McKnight等人的研究提示,费洛蒙及其它环境信号可影响精子的活动力,并因而影响生育力。至关重要的是,在本研究中得到评估的前列腺素也在小鼠中被发现,这意味着在其它动物中可能也存在着类似的机制,且由于先前的研究已经显示前列腺素会影响人的精子,因此这项研究可能也与人类的生育能力相关。 
 
Abstract 

Environmental exposures affect gamete function and fertility, but the mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we show that pheromones sensed by ciliated neurons in the Caenorhabditis elegans nose alter the lipid microenvironment within the oviduct, thereby affecting sperm motility. In favorable environments, pheromone-responsive sensory neurons secrete a transforming growth factor–β ligand called DAF-7, which acts as a neuroendocrine factor that stimulates prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase [cyclooxygenase (Cox)]–independent prostaglandin synthesis in the ovary. Oocytes secrete F-class prostaglandins that guide sperm toward them. These prostaglandins are also synthesized in Cox knockout mice, raising the possibility that similar mechanisms exist in other animals. Our data indicate that environmental cues perceived by the female nervous system affect sperm function. 

Editor's Summary 

Scents and Sperm 

Once sperm enter the female reproductive tract, they have an arduous task to find an egg at a distant, often concealed, location. McKnight et al. (p. 754) show that Caenorhabditis elegans make this task more or less difficult, depending on pheromones in the external environment. Pheromones perceived by female sensory neurons modulate the synthesis of ovarian prostaglandins, which provide sperm positional information. Thus, environmental cues can indirectly impact sperm function even when the sperm themselves are not directly exposed. 

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