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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2009 Mar;66(5):900-8. doi: 10.1007/s00018-009-8482-2.

A sperm GPI-anchored protein elicits sperm-cumulus cross-talk leading to the acrosome reaction.

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Laboratory of Reproductive Medicine, Department of Histology and Embryology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 210029, China.


The acrosome reaction has long been thought to be induced by the zona pellucida. Here we report the identification and function of a novel human sperm glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored membrane protein, NYD-SP8. The release of the protein during sperm-egg interaction and its binding to the cumulus, the first layer of egg investment, elicits cross-talk between the gametes and produces calcium dependant release of progesterone, which lead to the acrosome reaction. An in vivo mouse model of NYD-SP8 immunization is also established showing a reduced fertility rate. Thus, contrary to accepted dogma, our study demonstrates for the first time that, prior to reaching the zona pellucida, sperm may release a surface protein that acts on the cumulus cells leading to the acrosome reaction, which may be important for determining the outcome of fertilization.

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