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Bioessays. 2001 Jul;23(7):628-39.

Fertilin beta and other ADAMs as integrin ligands: insights into cell adhesion and fertilization.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD.615 N. Wolfe St., Room 3606A, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


One of the most important cell-cell interactions is that of the sperm with the egg. This interaction, which begins with cell adhesion and culminates with membrane fusion, is mediated by multiple molecules on the gametes. One of the best-characterized of these molecules is fertilin beta, a ligand on mammalian sperm and one of the first ADAMs (A Disintegrin and A Metalloprotease domain) to be identified. Fertilin beta (also known as ADAM2) participates in sperm-egg membrane binding, and it has long been hypothesized that this function is achieved through the interaction of the disintegrin domain of fertilin beta with an integrin on the egg surface. There are now approximately 30 members of the ADAM family and, to date, five different ADAMs (fertilin beta, ADAM9, ADAM12, ADAM15, ADAM23) have been described to interact with integrins (specifically alpha(6)beta(1), alpha(v)beta(3), alpha(9)beta(1), alpha(v)beta(5), and/or alpha(5)beta(1)). This field will be discussed with respect to what is known about specific ADAMs and the integrins with which they interact, and what the implications are for sperm-egg interactions and for integrin function. These data will also be discussed in the context of recent knockout studies, which show that eggs lacking the alpha(6) integrin subunit can be fertilized, and eggs lacking the integrin-associated tetraspanin protein CD9 fail to fertilize. Key issues in cell adhesion that pertain to gametes and fertilization will also be highlighted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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