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In vitro Fertilization

Cell Biology

  1. Carol A. Brenner1,3,
  2. Hans Michael Kubisch2,
  3. Barry D. Bavister1,3

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/3527600906.mcb.200400034

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

How to Cite

Brenner, C. A., Kubisch, H. M. and Bavister, B. D. 2006. In vitro Fertilization. Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, USA

  2. 2

    Tulane National Primate Research Center, Covington, LA, USA

  3. 3

    Tulane Institute for Reproductive Medicine, Center for Excellence in Women's Health, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Fertilization in mammals takes place within the female reproductive tract, so information about mechanisms and molecules regulating them must come largely from studies on in vitro fertilization. Such studies have been most informative about fertilization mechanisms, including chemotaxis, the sperm acrosome reaction, the molecular nature of sperm–egg binding, and events occurring during and after sperm–egg plasma membrane fusion. However, many details remain to be elucidated, such as the molecular nature of sperm capacitation, the precise way in which the spermatozoon traverses the egg's zona pellucida, the identity of the sperm-derived signal that initiates egg activation, the mechanistic linkage between calcium oscillations and subsequent developmental events, and the mechanism by which paternal mitochondria are normally eliminated so that only maternal mtDNA is inherited. A major concern is whether use of novel technologies for alleviating human infertility can introduce anomalies such as paternal mtDNA inheritance, and if so, what consequences this may have for pre- or postnatal development. Until recently, it was difficult to detect small amounts of anomalous mtDNA that might be present within an embryo. However, the application of highly sensitive techniques such as RT-PCR and molecular beacon analysis can compensate for the very small numbers of oocytes that are available for analysis in mammals and so will rapidly provide further insights into the molecular mechanisms of fertilization and subsequent development.


  • Assisted Reproductive Technology;
  • Mitochondria;
  • Oocyte;
  • Spermatozoa;
  • Zona Pellucida