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Mol Reprod Dev. 1992 Apr;31(4):297-306.

Activation of a G protein in mouse sperm by the zona pellucida, an egg-associated extracellular matrix.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.


Mammalian sperm possess a guanine nucleotide-binding regulatory protein (G protein), with properties similar to Gi, that appears to be involved in the signal transduction pathway required for zona pellucida (ZP)-mediated acrosomal exocytosis. Mouse sperm treated with pertussis toxin (PT), a toxin that functionally inactivates Gi proteins, bind to the ZP of mouse eggs but are inhibited from undergoing acrosomal exocytosis. We have measured high-affinity GTPase activity and GTP gamma [35S] binding in mouse sperm homogenates incubated in the absence and presence of ZP glycoproteins isolated from either ovulated eggs or from ovarian homogenates to determine whether this extracellular matrix can activate the sperm-associated Gi protein. An increase in GTP hydrolysis (approximately 50% over basal activity) and GTP gamma [35S] binding (approximately 25-60% over basal activity) is observed when sperm homogenates are incubated in the presence of solubilized ZP glycoproteins, and the increase in GTPase activity is dependent on the concentration of ZP added to the homogenates. Accompanying this increase is a reduction in the ability of PT to catalyze in vitro [32P]ADP-ribosylation of a Mr = 41,000 sperm Gi protein, suggesting that the increase in GTPase activity and GTP gamma [35S] binding is associated with the activation of a PT-sensitive sperm G protein(s). The ability of the ZP to stimulate high-affinity GTPase activity in these homogenates appears to be dependent on the capacitation state of the sperm from which the homogenates are prepared. These data suggest that a component(s) of the ZP may function in a manner similar to that of other ligands by binding to a sperm surface-associated receptor and subsequently activating a G protein coupled to an intracellular signal transduction cascade(s) required for induction of acrosomal exocytosis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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