The molecular events of sperm-oocyte binding and fusion have been studied extensively, but identification of the molecules involved in sperm-oocyte interaction remains incomplete. Integrins are a family of heterodimeric cell adhesion molecules that mediate cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions. Although integrins have associated with the plasma membrane of some mammal oocytes and spermatozoa, the presence of these molecules on the surface of bovine oocytes and spermatozoa has not been reported. The aim of the present study will be: a) identification of several bovine oocytes and spermatozoa integrins subunits; b) investigate whether integrins are required for bovine sperm-oocyte binding and fusion process; c) investigate the role of integrins in fertilization; d) study if the expression of some integrins on bovine spermatozoa will be altered in the infertile bulls during in vitro fertilization. It will be used the confocal microscopy to identify integrins subunits on the surface of bovine oocytes and spermatozoa; experiments to investigate the role of integrins during fertilization and sperm-oocyte binding; flow citometry to investigate the spermatic quality.
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