Mechanical Property Characterization of Mouse Zona Pellucida

Yu Sun
Kai-tak Wan, Missouri University of Science and Technology
K. P. Roberts
J. C. Bischof
B. J. Nelson

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Previous intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) studies have indicated significant variation in ICSI success rates among different species. In mouse ICSI, the zona pellucida (ZP) undergoes a "hardening" process at fertilization in order to prevent subsequent sperm from penetrating. There have been few studies investigating changes in the mechanical properties of mouse ZP post fertilization. To characterize mouse ZP mechanical properties and quantitate the mechanical property differences of the ZP before and after fertilization, a microelectromechanical systems-based multiaxis cellular force sensor has been developed. A microrobotic cell manipulation system employing the multiaxis cellular force sensor is used to conduct mouse ZP force sensing, establishing a quantitative relationship between applied forces and biomembrane structural deformations on both mouse oocytes and embryos. An analytical biomembrane elastic model is constructed to describe biomembrane mechanical properties. The characterized elastic modulus of embryos is 2.3 times that of oocytes, and the measured forces for puncturing embryo ZP are 1.7 times those for oocyte ZP. The technique and model presented in this paper can be applied to investigations into the mechanical properties of other biomembranes, such as the plasma membrane of oocytes or other cell types.