The use of two fluorescent dyes to identify sperm in a competitive binding assay to oocytes

David J. Miller, Jill M. Demers, Andrea G. Braundmeier, Melissa L. Behrens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The relationship of most sperm laboratory assays to male fertility is inconsistent. Assays that measure traits required to fertilize oocytes are expected to have the most predictive value. A new assay that measures the competitive ability of two sperm samples to bind to oocytes was developed. Two populations of sperm were labeled using a pair of lipophilic dyes. A concentration of 75 μM of the two dyes, DiQ (4-[4- (dihexadecylamino)styryl]-N-methylquinolinium iodide; an orange-red dye) and DiOC16 (3,3'-dihexadecyloxacarbocyanine perchlorate; a yellow-green dye), intensely stained 66 and 73% of sperm, respectively, without affecting sperm motility or oocyte-binding ability. Because sperm could be stained with fluorescent dyes, sperm from two semen samples were mixed together in a droplet, and oocytes were added to allow sperm to bind oocytes competitively. Oocyte-bound sperm from each sample were counted. Binding was specific; nonspecific sperm binding was estimated by sperm bound to two-cell mouse embryos and averaged one to three sperm per embryo. Staining with DiQ or DiOC16 did not affect oocyte-binding ability since more than 80% of the sperm bound were stained with either dye. Furthermore, if different ratios of DiQ- or DiOC16-stained sperm from the same ejaculate were prepared in droplets and oocytes were added, the percentage of sperm bound to the oocytes reflected the percentage of sperm in the droplet; there was no differential effect of either dye. This assay used fixed oocytes because sperm bound equally to fixed and fresh bovine oocytes. This competitive oocyte-binding assay allows one to make a series of pairwise comparisons between a group of males or to include an internal control sample in sperm-oocyte binding assays. This assay may allow more accurate prediction of the oocyte-binding ability of sperm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-656
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of andrology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998


  • Fertility
  • Laboratory assays
  • Receptors
  • Zona pellucida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Urology

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