Identification of new molecular interactions driving human fertilization

The biochemical underpinnings of human fertilization are largely a molecular mystery. In contrast to marine invertebrates such as abalone, the proteomic composition of mammalian sperm is substantially more complex in composition and functional redundancy, and there are only two known pairs of interacting sperm-egg proteins in humans. Rapid evolution and lineage-specific diversification of gametic proteins also limits the utility of genetic studies in rodent models for understanding human fertilization. My laboratory integrates quantitative mass spectrometry of human gametes with molecular evolutionary analyses and deep learning to identify new interacting pairs of fertilization proteins that are characterized using structural and biophysical techniques.