Signalling pathways involved in sperm capacitation

Soc Reprod Fertil Suppl. 2007;65:245-59.


After ejaculation, mammalian sperm have not yet acquired full fertilising capacity. They will require a finite period of residence in the female reproductive tract before they become fertilisation competent. The molecular, biochemical, and physiological changes that occur to sperm while in the female tract are collectively referred to as capacitation. During capacitation, changes in membrane properties, enzyme activities, and motility render spermatozoa responsive to stimuli that induce the acrosome reaction and prepare spermatozoa for penetration of the egg investments prior to fertilisation. These changes are facilitated by the activation of cell signalling cascades in the female reproductive tract in vivo or in defined media in vitro. The purposes of this review are to consider some recent contributions towards our understanding of capacitation, to summarise open questions in this field, and to discuss future avenues of research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acrosome Reaction / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mammals / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Sperm Capacitation / physiology*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*


  • Seminal Plasma Proteins