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J Cell Sci. 2009 Sep 1;122(Pt 17):3153-60. doi: 10.1242/jcs.052977. Epub 2009 Aug 4.

Functional consequences of cleavage, dissociation and exocytotic release of ZP3R, a C4BP-related protein, from the mouse sperm acrosomal matrix.

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Center for Research on Reproduction and Women's Health, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The acrosome is an exocytotic vesicle located on the apical tip of the sperm head. In addition to having different morphological regions, two biochemically distinct compartments can be defined within the acrosome: a particulate acrosomal matrix and a soluble partition. The domains within the acrosome participate in the release of acrosomal proteins from the sperm during exocytosis, depending on whether the proteins partition into either the soluble or matrix compartments of the acrosome. We have examined the mechanism of differential release by evaluating the solubilization of acrosomal matrix protein ZP3R (sp56) from mouse sperm during the course of spontaneous acrosomal exocytosis. Using indirect immunofluorescence and immunoblotting, we found that the ZP3R monomer is processed from 67,000 M(r) to 43,000 M(r) by proteases coincident with release from the acrosome. Sperm require a maturational step, termed capacitation, before they are competent for acrosomal exocytosis and the processing of ZP3R is dramatically reduced under non-capacitating conditions. The cleavage probably takes place in complement control protein domain (CCP) 6 or the bridge region between CCP6 and CCP7, which is not present in the guinea pig orthologue AM67. The cleaved form of ZP3R does not bind to unfertilized eggs. We have incorporated these structural considerations into a model to explain the functional consequences of acrosomal exocytosis on sperm-zona interactions.

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