In mammals, sperm migrate through the female reproductive tract to reach the egg; however, our understanding of this journey is highly limited. To shed light on this process, we focused on defining the functions of seminal vesicle secretion 2 (SVS2). SVS2(-/-) male mice produced sperm but were severely subfertile, and formation of a copulatory plug to cover the female genital opening did not occur. Surprisingly, even when artificial insemination was performed with silicon as a substitute for the plug, sperm fertility in the absence of SVS2 remained severely reduced because the sperm were already dead in the uterus. Thus, our results provide evidence that the uterus induces sperm cell death and that SVS2 protects sperm from uterine attack.
Keywords: acrosomal reaction; decapacitation; in vivo fertilization; uterine sperm selection; uterine spermicide.