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Dev Biol. 1997 Jun 15;186(2):155-64.

Identification of metalloprotease/disintegrins in Xenopus laevis testis with a potential role in fertilization.

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Section of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.


Proteins containing a membrane-anchored metalloprotease domain, a disintegrin domain, and a cysteine-rich region (MDC proteins) are thought to play an important role in mammalian fertilization, as well as in somatic cell-cell interactions. We have identified PCR sequence tags encoding the disintegrin domain of five distinct MDC proteins from Xenopus laevis testis cDNA. Four of these sequence tags (xMDC9, xMDC11.1, xMDC11.2, and xMDC13) showed strong similarity to known mammalian MDC proteins, whereas the fifth (xMDC16) apparently represents a novel family member. Northern blot analysis revealed that the mRNA for xMDC16 was only expressed in testis, and not in heart, muscle, liver, ovaries, or eggs, whereas the mRNAs corresponding to the four other PCR products were expressed in testis and in some or all somatic tissues tested. The xMDC16 protein sequence, as predicted from the full-length cDNA, contains a metalloprotease domain with the active-site sequence HEXXH, a disintegrin domain, a cysteine-rich region, an EGF repeat, a transmembrane domain, and a short cytoplasmic tail. To study a potential role for these xMDC proteins in fertilization, peptides corresponding to the predicted integrin-binding domain of each protein were tested for their ability to inhibit X. laevis fertilization. Cyclic and linear xMDC16 peptides inhibited fertilization in a concentration-dependent manner, whereas xMDC16 peptides that were scrambled or had certain amino acid replacements in the predicted integrin-binding domain did not affect fertilization. Cyclic and linear xMDC9 peptides and linear xMDC13 peptides also inhibited fertilization similarly to xMDC16 peptides, whereas peptides corresponding to the predicted integrin-binding site of xMDC11.1 and xMDC11.2 did not. These results are discussed in the context of a model in which multiple MDC protein-receptor interactions are necessary for fertilization to occur.

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