Gamete interactions in Xenopus laevis: identification of sperm binding glycoproteins in the egg vitelline envelope.
A quantitative assay was developed to study the interaction of Xenopus laevis sperm and eggs. Using this assay it was found that sperm bound in approximately equal numbers to the surface of both hemispheres of the unfertilized egg, but not to the surface of the fertilized egg. To understand the molecular basis of sperm binding to the egg vitelline envelope (VE), a competition assay was used and it was found that solubilized total VE proteins inhibited sperm-egg binding in a concentration-dependent manner. Individual VE proteins were then isolated and tested for their ability to inhibit sperm binding. Of the seven proteins in the VE, two related glycoproteins, gp69 and gp64, inhibited sperm-egg binding. Polyclonal antibody was prepared that specifically recognized gp69 and gp64. This gp69/64 specific antibody bound to the VE surface and blocked sperm binding, as well as fertilization. Moreover, agarose beads coated with gp69/64 showed high sperm binding activity, while beads coated with other VE proteins bound few sperm. Treatment of unfertilized eggs with crude collagenase resulted in proteolytic modification of only the gp69/64 components of the VE, and this modification abolished sperm-egg binding. Small glycopeptides generated by Pronase digestion of gp69/64 also inhibited sperm-egg binding and this inhibition was abolished by treatment of the glycopeptides with periodate. Based on these observations, we conclude that the gp69/64 glycoproteins in the egg vitelline envelope mediate sperm-egg binding, an initial step in Xenopus fertilization, and that the oligosaccharide chains of these glycoproteins may play a critical role in this process.
Tian, J; Gong, H; Thomsen, GH; Lennarz, WJ
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