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Volume 13, Issue 1 (January 2011) 13, 97–105; 10.1038/aja.2010.72

Acrosome reaction: relevance of zona pellucida glycoproteins

Satish K Gupta and Beena Bhandari

Reproductive Cell Biology Laboratory, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi-110 067, India

Correspondence: Dr SK Gupta, (skgupta@nii.res.in)


During mammalian fertilisation, the zona pellucida (ZP) matrix surrounding the oocyte is responsible for the binding of the spermatozoa to the oocyte and induction of the acrosome reaction (AR) in the ZP-bound spermatozoon. The AR is crucial for the penetration of the ZP matrix by spermatozoa. The ZP matrix in mice is composed of three glycoproteins designated ZP1, ZP2 and ZP3, whereas in humans, it is composed of four (ZP1, ZP2, ZP3 and ZP4). ZP3 acts as the putative primary sperm receptor and is responsible for AR induction in mice, whereas in humans (in addition to ZP3), ZP1 and ZP4 also induce the AR. The ability of ZP3 to induce the AR resides in its C-terminal fragment. O-linked glycans are critical for the murine ZP3-mediated AR. However, N-linked glycans of human ZP1, ZP3 and ZP4 have important roles in the induction of the AR. Studies with pharmacological inhibitors showed that the ZP3-induced AR involves the activation of the Gi-coupled receptor pathway, whereas ZP1- and ZP4-mediated ARs are independent of this pathway. The ZP3-induced AR involves the activation of T-type voltage-operated calcium channels (VOCCs), whereas ZP1- and ZP4-induced ARs involve both T- and L-type VOCCs. To conclude, in mice, ZP3 is primarily responsible for the binding of capacitated spermatozoa to the ZP matrix and induction of the AR, whereas in humans (in addition to ZP3), ZP1 and ZP4 also participate in these stages of fertilisation.

Keywords: acrosome reaction; fertilisation; oocyte; signalling pathways; spermatozoa; zona pellucida glycoproteins

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