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Nat Commun. 2015 Nov 16;6:8858. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9858.

Oocyte-triggered dimerization of sperm IZUMO1 promotes sperm-egg fusion in mice.

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Department of Cell Science, Institutes for Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine, Fukushima Medical University, 1 Hikarigaoka, Fukushima City, Fukushima 960-1295, Japan.
National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, 1-8-31 Midorigaoka, Ikeda, Osaka 563-8577, Japan.


Sperm-egg fusion is indispensable for completing mammalian fertilization. Although the underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood, requirement of two spermatozoon factors, IZUMO1 and SPACA6, and two oocyte factors, CD9 and the IZUMO1 counter-receptor JUNO, has been proven by gene disruption, and the binding of cells to an oocyte can be reconstituted by ectopic expression of IZUMO1. Here we demonstrate that robust IZUMO1-dependent adhesion of sperm with an oocyte accompanies the dimerization of IZUMO1. Despite the intrinsic dimeric property of its N-terminal region, IZUMO1 is monomeric in spermatozoa. Interestingly, JUNO associates with monomeric IZUMO1, which is then quickly removed as tight adhesion of the two cells is subsequently established. We therefore propose that global structural rearrangement of IZUMO1 occurs on JUNO recognition and that this rearrangement may then initiate force generation to overcome repulsion between the juxtaposing membranes, through an unidentified receptor on the egg.

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