Summary. Fluid obtained by stripping dissected seminal vesicles was mixed with phosphate-buffered saline and the soluble proteins were separated by gel filtration on BioRad P150 into 4 fractions. Fractions were collected and concentrated using an Amicon ultrafiltration system using YM2 membranes with a molecular weight cut-off of 1000. Epididymal sperm suspensions were incubated in medium containing one of the 4 fractions or 1 mg BSA/ml, or no added protein. After incubation for 2 h the motility of the spermatozoa in each suspension was assessed by a videomicrographic procedure. Two aspects of motility, velocity and the shape of the swimming path, were monitored. The results indicate that the seminal vesicles produce at least three factors that influence sperm motility. Fraction 3 (M r 12 000–24 000) was detrimental to motility; after incubation for 2 h almost all the spermatozoa were immotile. Fractions 2 (M r 25 000–40 000) and 4 (M r 7000–12 000) both influenced the shape of the swimming path: spermatozoa incubated in Fraction 2 had straighter trajectories while those incubated in Fraction 4 showed more progressive paths with less side-to-side movement of the head about the path. These effects of factors from the seminal vesicle fluid on sperm motility may influence the way in which the spermatozoa move in the female reproductive tract and could help to explain why removal of the seminal vesicles reduces fertility in the mouse.
Keywords: sperm motility; seminal vesicles; accessory glands; mouse