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Dev Biol. 2003 Feb 15;254(2):226-37.

None of the integrins known to be present on the mouse egg or to be ADAM receptors are essential for sperm-egg binding and fusion.

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Section of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Antibody inhibition and alpha6beta1 ligand binding experiments indicate that the egg integrin alpha6beta1 functions as a receptor for sperm during gamete fusion; yet, eggs null for the alpha6 integrin exhibit normal fertilization. Alternative integrins may be involved in sperm-egg binding and fusion and could compensate for the absence of alpha6beta1. Various beta1 integrins and alphav integrins are present on mouse eggs. Some of these integrins are also reported to be receptors for ADAMs, which are expressed on sperm. Using alpha3 integrin null eggs, we found that the alpha3beta1 integrin was not essential for sperm-egg binding and fusion. Oocyte-specific, beta1 integrin conditional knockout mice allowed us to obtain mature eggs lacking all beta1 integrins. We found that the beta1 integrin null eggs were fully functional in fertilization both in vivo and in vitro. Furthermore, neither anti-mouse beta3 integrin function-blocking monoclonal antibody (mAb) nor alphav integrin function-blocking mAb inhibited sperm binding to or fusion with beta1 integrin null eggs. Thus, function of beta3 or alphav integrins does not seem to be involved in compensating for the absence of beta1 integrins. These results indicate that none of the integrins known to be present on mouse eggs or to be ADAM receptors are essential for sperm-egg binding/fusion, and thus, egg integrins may not play the role in gamete fusion previously attributed to them.

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