Mechanical property characterization of mouse zona pellucida

Yu Sun, Kai Tak Wan, Kenneth P. Roberts, John C. Bischof, Bradley J. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

288 Scopus citations


Previous intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) studies have indicated significant variation in ICSI success rates among different species. In mouse ICSI, the zona pellucid a (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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-286
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Biomembrane mechanical modeling
  • Elastic modulus
  • Force sensing
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
  • Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)
  • Microrobotic cell manipulation
  • Zona pellucida (ZP) hardening


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