Carbohydrated-Mediated Sperm-Egg Interactions In Mammals

  • Ruth Shalgi
  • Jeffrey D. Bleil
  • Paul M. Wassarman


The fertilization pathway in mice consists of several steps that must occur in a compulsory order prior to fusion of sperm and egg (reviewed in Wassarman, 1987a,b, 1988a). The steps include: (i) loose “attachment” and then tight species-specific “binding” of acrosomeintact sperm to the unfertilized egg’s extracellular coat, or zona pellucida; (ii) completion of the acrosome reaction, an exocytotic event involving fusion of outer acrosomal and plasma membranes, by bound sperm; (iii) penetration of the zona pellucida by bound acrosomereacted sperm (perhaps, by using a sperm proteinase, “acrosin”); (iv) fusion of acrosomereacted sperm with the egg’s plasma membrane. Within a few minutes of sperm-egg fusion, the zona pellucida is altered (“zona reaction”) such that it becomes refractory to both binding of sperm and penetration by sperm; this constitutes a secondary block to polyspermy. These changes in the nature of the zona pellucida are thought to be brought about by cortical granule enzymes released into the extracellular coat as a consequence of the cortical reaction (fusion of cortical granule and plasma membranes). Thus, the steps in the fertilization pathway include species-specific cellular recognition, intracellular and intercellular membrane fusions, and enzyme-catalyzed modifications of cellular investments.


Zona Pellucida Acrosome Reaction Cortical Granule Carbohydrate Epitope Terminal Galactose 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Shalgi
    • 1
  • Jeffrey D. Bleil
    • 1
  • Paul M. Wassarman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Roche Institute of Molecular BiologyRoche Research CenterNutleyUSA

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