Ovarian Development and the Formation of the Mammalian Zona Pellucida

  • B. S. Dunbar
  • G. A. Maresh
  • K. Washenik


The mammalian zona pellueida (ZP) is the unique extracellular matrix which is formed during oocyte growth and development. It is well established that this matrix is important in the fertilization process because the sperm must frist adhere to the surface of the ZP and penetrate it before it can reach the membrane of the ovum (see reviews by Yanagimachi 1977; Dunbar 1983 a; Dunbar and Wolgemuth 1984; Wassarman 1987). This structure subsequently aids in the maintenance of cell contact of the cleaving blastomeres and also protects the embryo during its transit down the oviduct to the uterus (Mintz 1962). Additional studies demonstrate that antibodies to the ZP will inhibit or reduce fertilization following either passive or active immunization (East et al. 1984, 1985; Sacco et al. 1981; Wood et al. 1981). There have therefore been many investigations which have led to the detailed characterization of the constituent macromolecules of the ZP. In addition, these studies have led to the observations that there are marked variations in the morphological, biochemical, immunochemical, and physicochemical properties of the constituent glycoproteins of the ZP in different mammalian species (Bleil and Wassarman 1980 a–c; Dunbar et al. 1981,1985; Sacco et al. 1981; Drell and Dunbar 1984; Timmons et al. 1987; Yurewicz et al. 1987; Maresh and Dunbar 1987a). One major morphological variation is in the thickness of the ZP in different mammalian species, as illustrated in Fig. 1 (see also review by Dunbar 1983 a). In addition to their size, the differences in sensitivity to enzymatic digestion as determined by visual dissolution using microscopy is also impressive. These differences may reflect the variation in the relative amount of protein per zona pellueida (e. g., 4.8 ng per mouse ZP.


Granulosa Cell Zona Pellucida Ovarian Development Antral Follicle Primordial Follicle 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. S. Dunbar
  • G. A. Maresh
  • K. Washenik

There are no affiliations available

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