© Strünker

Topic of Research

The detection of chemical and physical cues, which provides information on food, mates, danger, and pathogens, is essential for the survival of whole animals as well as for single cells. Sperm are a powerful model to elucidate the basic principles underlying sensory signal transduction. The signaling pathways and molecules that govern sensory signaling in sperm are similar to those in sensory neurons that detect for example mechanical force, odors, or light. Swimming up the oviduct resembles a relay race during which sperm are instructed by long- and short-range cues to navigate by rheotaxis and chemotaxis. By the kinetic stopped- and quenched-flow technique and patch-clamp recordings, combined with fluorescent ion- and voltage-sensitive indicators, we study sensory signal transduction in sperm. In particular, we are interested in the ion channels, receptors, and cellular messengers that allow sperm to register chemical cues released by the egg.

ChemBIon Project

The sperm-specific CatSper Ca2+ channel is activated by prostaglandins that are released by cells surrounding the oocyte. Prostaglandin-induced Ca2+ influx via CatSper affects the swimming behavior and, thereby, facilitates the fertilization process. Prostaglandins activate CatSper via an unknown mechanism. We will develop and apply a chemical toolkit, i.e. prostaglandin photo-affinity labels, to elucidate the prostaglandin-binding site in human sperm and to characterize prostaglandin action in human sperm. The project will be conducted as a whole (from the synthesis to the application) by a PhD student under co-supervision by Prof. Wünsch and Prof. Strünker.

  • Curriculum vitae

    1997 - 2002

    Studies of Biology (Diplom-Biologe) at the University of Cologne

    2002 - 2005

    PhD at the Research Center Jülich, Germany (PhD in Biochemistry, University of Cologne)

    2005 - 2006

    Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Research Center Jülich, Germany

    2006 - 2008

    Lab Head with Grünenthal GmbH, Germany

    2008 - 2015

    Group Leader at the Research Center Caesar (Bonn), an Associate of the Max Planck Society

    since 2015

    Professor at the Center of Reproductive Medicine and Andrology (CeRA), Münster