In order to better understand how sperm movement is regulated in the oviduct, we mated wild-type female mice with Acr-EGFP males that produce sperm with fluorescent acrosomes. The fluorescence improved our ability to detect sperm within the oviduct. Oviducts were removed shortly before or after ovulation and placed in chambers on a warm microscope stage for video recording. Hyperactivated sperm in the isthmic reservoir detached frequently from the epithelium and then reattached. Unexpectedly, most sperm found in the ampulla remained bound to epithelium throughout the observation period of several minutes. In both regions, most sperm produced deep flagellar bends in the direction opposite the hook of the sperm head. This was unexpected, because mouse sperm incubated under capacitating conditions in vitro primarily hyperactivate by producing deep flagellar bends in the same direction as the hook of the head. In vitro, sperm that are treated with thimerosal to release Ca2 from internal stores produce deep anti-hook bends; however, physical factors such as viscous oviduct fluid could also have influenced bending in oviductal sperm. Some sperm detached from epithelium in both the ampulla and isthmus during strong contractions of the oviduct. Blockage of oviduct contractions with nicardipine, however, did not stop sperm from forming a storage reservoir in the isthmus or prevent sperm from reaching the ampulla. These observations indicate that sperm continue to bind to oviductal epithelium after they leave the isthmic reservoir and that sperm motility is crucial in the transport of sperm to the fertilization site.
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Vol. 86 • No. 5