capacitation image from New Medical Terms

schematic of capacitation


A biochemical process in mammals, that consists of the post-ejaculation maturation of sperm, which are capable of penetrating the zona pellucida and fertilising an oocyte.

It is due to exposure to secretions–sterol binding albumin, lipoproteins, proteases and glycosidases–in the uterus, and requires the correct concentration of the tripeptide FPP–fertilisation promoting peptide, which is present in seminal fluid.

The process destabilises the acrosomal sperm head membrane, facilitating binding of (one lucky) sperm to the oocyte, by removing steroids–e.g., cholesterol) and non-covalently bound seminal glycoprotein; the process is reversible and includes all of the events up to the acrosome reaction, which is irreversible. 


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