Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Dev Biol. 1991 Feb;143(2):398-407.

Isolation, characterization, and localization of a sperm-bound N-acetylglucosaminidase that is indispensable for fertilization in the ascidian, Phallusia mammillata.

Author information

  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Z├╝rich, Switzerland.


N-Acetylglucosaminidase (GlcNAc'ase), which possesses by far the highest activity of all Phallusia mammillata sperm glycosidases, was isolated and purified using DEAE-cellulose, phenyl-Sepharose, and concanavalin A affinity chromatography. The molecular size of the native enzyme estimated by G-200 gel permeation was 158 kDa. On SDS-PAGE, the denatured enzyme migrated as a single band with a Mr of 78 kDa. This indicates that under nondenaturing conditions the GlcNAc'ase prevails as a dimer. The molecular activity of the enzyme was determined to be 3.7 x 10(5) U/mumole, the Km for p-NP-GlcNAc was 0.65 mM, and the Ki for GlcNAc was 5.5 mM. It has been suggested that gamete binding in ascidians might be mediated by an enzyme-substrate complex established between a sperm glycosidase and corresponding glycosides on the vitelline coat. Thus, the GlcNAc'ase should be present as an exoenzyme at the proper place on the sperm surface membrane, i.e., on the sperm tip and possibly over the mitochondrial region. We localized the enzyme with fluorescence and electron microscopy using the neoglycoprotein BSA-p-aminophenyl-N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminide (BSA-GlcNAc) or concanavalin A coupled either to fluorochromes or gold particles. Labeling of unreacted and activated sperm revealed three distinct binding sites, namely at the sperm tip, over the mitochondrion, and at the head-tail junction. In reacted sperm strong labeling was observed over the translocated mitochondrion as well as at the sperm tip. An intensive binding was observed along the rim which borders the cap-like structure at the sperm tip. The distribution of the enzyme reflected by these binding patterns accounts well for the suggested function. Using N-acetylglucosaminono-1,5-lactone oxime, a novel, highly specific inhibitor of GlcNAc'ase, we were able to show that this enzyme is indispensable for fertilization of intact eggs, but not of eggs deprived of their vitelline coat. These observations are discussed in terms of functional relationships which may exist between this enzyme, sperm binding, gamete recognition, and penetration of the vitelline coat.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center