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Biol Reprod. 2009 Jul;81(1):7-15. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.108.074716. Epub 2009 Feb 25.

Functional activity of human ZP3 primary sperm receptor resides toward its C-terminus.

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  • 1Reproductive Cell Biology Laboratory, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, India.


Zona pellucida glycoprotein 3 (ZP3) has been ascribed as a putative primary sperm receptor during fertilization in humans. Herein, attempts have been made to delineate the functional domain of human ZP3. ZP3 has been cloned and expressed in a baculovirus expression system as N-terminal fragments (amino acid [aa] residues 1-175 [pAc-ZP3(1-175 aa)] and 23-175 [pBg-ZP3(23-175 aa)]) and as C-terminal fragments (aa residues 214-305 [pBg-ZP3(214-305 aa)] and 214-348 [pBg-ZP3(214-348 aa)]). ZP3 encompassing both N- and C-terminal fragments corresponding to aa residues 1-370 (pAc-ZP3([1-370 aa])) has also been expressed. Lectin-binding analysis with these recombinant proteins revealed the presence of N- and O-linked glycosylation. Significant induction of acrosomal exocytosis was observed when capacitated sperm were incubated with pBg-ZP3(214-348 aa), pBg-ZP3(214-305 aa), and pAc-ZP3(1-370 aa) (P < 0.05), whereas incubation with pAc-ZP3(1-175 aa) and pBg-ZP3(23-175 aa) failed to do so under similar experimental conditions. However, N- and C-terminal fragments labeled with fluorescein isothiocyanate revealed binding to the anterior head of capacitated human spermatozoa. Escherichia coli-expressed ZP3 C-terminal fragments and chemically deglycosylated pBg-ZP3(214-348 aa) failed to induce a significant (P > 0.05) increase in acrosomal exocytosis, suggesting the relevance of glycosylation in imparting functional activity to ZP3 C-terminal fragments. pBg-ZP3(214-348 aa)-mediated induction of acrosomal exocytosis is regulated by G(i) protein, extracellular calcium, GABA(A) [gamma aminobutyric acid (A)] receptor-mediated Cl(-) channel, and T-type voltage-operated calcium channels. Taken together, the results of these studies suggest that the functional activity of human ZP3 resides in its C-terminal domain.

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