Behavior of mouse spermatozoa in the female reproductive tract from soon after mating to the beginning of fertilization

Yuko Muro, Hidetoshi Hasuwa, Ayako Isotani, Haruhiko Miyata, Kazuo Yamagata, Masahito Ikawa, Ryuzo Yanagimachi, Masaru Okabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Using transgenic mice with spermatozoa expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein in their acrosome and red fluorescent protein in their midpiece mitochondria, we followed the behavior of spermatozoa within the female genital tract after natural mating. When examined 15 min after coitus, many spermatozoa were around the opening of the uterotubal junction. Spermatozoa that entered the uterotubal junction were seemingly not moving, yet they steadily migrated toward the isthmus at a speed only time-lapse video recording could demonstrate. Many spermatozoa reaching the lower isthmus were motile. The site where spermatozoa attached and detached from the isthmus epithelium shifted from the lower to the upper segment of the isthmus with time. Virtually all the live spermatozoa within the lower isthmus were acrosome intact, whereas many of the actively motile spermatozoa in the upper isthmus were acrosome reacted. As far as we could observe, all the spermatozoa we found within the lumen of the ampulla and the cumulus oophorus were acrosome reacted. Even though we saw only a very few spermatozoa within the ampulla during fertilization, all were associated with, or were already within, oocytes, indicating that mouse fertilization in vivo is extremely efficient.

Original languageEnglish
Article number80
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Apr 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Ampulla
  • Isthmus
  • Mouse
  • Oviduct
  • Sperm migration
  • Uterotubal junction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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