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Development. 1991 Apr;111(4):1165-72.

The interaction of boar sperm proacrosin with its natural substrate, the zona pellucida, and with polysulfated polysaccharides.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, Davis 95616.


Boar sperm acrosin is an acrosomal protease with trypsin-like specificity, and it functions in fertilization by assisting sperm passage through the zona pellucida by limited hydrolysis of this extracellular matrix. In addition to a proteolytic active site domain, acrosin binds the zona pellucida at a separate binding domain that is lost during proacrosin autolysis. In this study, we quantitate the binding of proacrosin to the physiological substrate for acrosin, the zona pellucida, and to a non-substrate, the polysulfated polysaccharide fucoidan. Binding was analogous to sea urchin sperm bindin that binds egg jelly fucan and the vitelline envelope of sea urchin eggs. Proacrosin was found to bind to fucoidan and to the zona pellucida with binding affinities similar to bindin interaction with egg jelly fucan. These interactions were competitively inhibited by similar relative molecular mass polysulfated polymers. Since bindin and proacrosin have distinctly different amino acid sequences, their interaction with acidic sulfate esters demonstrates an example of convergent evolution wherein different macromolecules localized in analogous sperm compartments have the same biological function. From cDNA sequence analysis of proacrosin, this binding may be mediated through a consensus sequence for binding sulfated glycoconjugates. Proacrosin binding to the zona pellucida may serve as both a recognition or primary sperm receptor, as well as maintaining the sperm on the zona pellucida once the acrosome reaction has occurred.

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