During sexual reproduction in many species, sperm and oocyte secrete diffusible signaling molecules to help orchestrate the biological symphony of fertilization. In the Caenorhabditis elegans gonad, bidirectional signaling between sperm and oocyte is important for guiding sperm to the fertilization site and inducing oocyte maturation. The molecular mechanisms that regulate sperm guidance and oocyte maturation are being delineated. Unexpectedly, these mechanisms are providing insight into human diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, and cancer. Here we review sperm and oocyte communication in C. elegans and discuss relationships to human disorders.
Copyright (c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.