Research News from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
Ion Channel Search Yields Target for New Type of Contraceptive
HHMI researchers have discovered an ion channel protein that plays a central
role in sperm motility. The researchers say that the ion channel may be an
enticing target for a new generation of contraceptives that could be taken
by either men or women to block fertilization.
The newly discovered protein, called CatSper, controls the flow of calcium
into the tails of spermatozoa. This influx of calcium triggers the sperm's
motor proteins, causing the tail to beat. The CatSper ion channel is found
only in a principal section of the sperm's tail and nowhere else in the
body, making it likely that a contraceptive that targets CatSper would have
far fewer side effects than a hormone-based contraceptive.
Research published in the October 11, 2001, issue of Nature.
For the full story, go to http://www.hhmi.org/news/clapham2.html
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