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Dev Biol. 2006 Feb 1;290(1):220-35. Epub 2006 Jan 4.

Sperm capacitation induces an increase in lipid rafts having zona pellucida binding ability and containing sulfogalactosylglycerolipid.

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  • 1Hormones/Growth/Development Group, Ottawa Health Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1Y 4E9.


Sperm gain full ability to bind to the zona(e) pellucida(e) (ZP) during capacitation. Since lipid rafts are implicated in cell adhesion, we determined whether capacitated sperm lipid rafts had affinity for the ZP. We demonstrated that lipid rafts, isolated as low-density detergent resistant membranes (DRMs), from capacitated pig sperm had ability to bind to homologous ZP. This binding was dependent on pig ZPB glycoprotein, a major participant in sperm binding. Capacitated sperm DRMs were also enriched in the male germ cell specific sulfogalactosylglycerolipid (SGG), which contributed to DRMs-ZP binding. Furthermore, SGG may participate in the formation of sperm DRMs due to its interaction with cholesterol, an integral component of lipid rafts, as shown by infrared spectroscopic studies. Since sperm capacitation is associated with cholesterol efflux from the sperm membrane, we questioned whether the formation of DRMs was compromised in capacitated sperm. Our studies indeed revealed that capacitation induced increased levels of sperm DRMs, with an enhanced ZP affinity. These results corroborated the implication of lipid rafts and SGG in cell adhesion and strongly suggested that the enhanced ZP binding ability of capacitated sperm may be attributed to increased levels and a greater ZP affinity of lipid rafts in the sperm plasma membrane.

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