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Reproduction. 2013 Jan 24;145(2):R31-42. doi: 10.1530/REP-12-0316. Print 2013 Feb.

The function of chaperone proteins in the assemblage of protein complexes involved in gamete adhesion and fusion processes.

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Priority Research Centre in Reproductive Science, School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Discipline of Biological Sciences, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales 2308, Australia.


The remarkable complexity of the molecular events governing adhesion and fusion of the male and female gametes is becoming apparent. Novel research suggests that these highly specific cellular interactions are facilitated by multiprotein complexes that are delivered to and/or assembled on the surface of the gametes by molecular chaperones in preparation for sperm-egg interaction. While the activation of these molecular chaperones and the mechanisms by which they shuttle proteins to the surface of the cell remain the subject of ongoing investigation, a compelling suggestion is that these processes are augmented by dynamic membrane microdomains or lipid rafts that migrate to the apical region of the sperm head after capacitation. Preliminary studies of the oocyte plasma membrane have also revealed the presence of lipid rafts comprising several molecular chaperones, raising the possibility that similar mechanisms may be involved in the activation of maternal fusion machinery and the regulation of oocyte plasma membrane integrity. Despite these findings, the analysis of oocyte surface multiprotein complexes is currently lacking. Further analyses of the intermediary proteins that facilitate the expression of key players in sperm-egg fusion are likely to deliver important insights into this unique event, which culminates in the cytoplasmic continuity of the male and female gametes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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