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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jan 3, 1995; 92(1): 263–267.

Mapping the mouse ZP3 combining site for sperm by exon swapping and site-directed mutagenesis.


During fertilization in mice, sperm bind to mouse ZP3 (mZP3), a M(r) approximately 83,000 glycoprotein present in the ovulated egg extracellular coat, or zona pellucida. Sperm recognize and bind to specific serine/threonine-linked (O-linked) oligosaccharides present at the mZP3 combining site for sperm. Binding to mZP3 induces sperm to undergo a form of exocytosis, the acrosome reaction. To map the mZP3 combining site for sperm, we examined the effect of exon swapping and site-directed mutagenesis on the glycoprotein's two activities, sperm binding and induction of the acrosome reaction. Stably transfected embryonal carcinoma cell lines were established that synthesized recombinant glycoproteins and secreted them into the culture medium. The glycoproteins were partially purified from culture medium and assayed for sperm-binding and acrosome reaction-inducing activities. Results of these assays suggest that glycosylation of one or more of five serine residues, clustered together in a polypeptide region encoded by mZP3 gene exon 7, is required for activity. Interestingly, this polypeptide region exhibits considerable sequence divergence during evolution and may be related to the proposed role for oligosaccharides in species-specific gamete adhesion during mammalian fertilization.

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Selected References

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