Author(s): Jones R, Howes E, Dunne PD, James P, Bruckbauer A,
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Abstract The molecules on mammalian spermatozoa that mediate recognition and binding to the zona pellucida of the egg are still not understood. Current concepts favour their assembly into multimolecular complexes in the plasma membrane in response to cholesterol efflux, an important step during sperm capacitation. Here, we track in real time diffusion of cross-linked clusters containing zona-binding molecules and GM1 gangliosides in the plasma membrane of live boar spermatozoa before and after cholesterol reduction. Both GM1 gangliosides and zona-binding molecules partition into a low density Triton X100 resistant phase suggesting their association with lipid rafts. Initially, GM1 and zona-binding molecules localize to the apical ridge on the acrosome but following cholesterol efflux with methyl-beta-cyclodextrin, clusters containing zona-binding molecules diffuse randomly over the acrosomal domain. Diffusing clusters of either type do not access the postacrosome. Spermatozoa agglutinated head-to-head show contact-induced coalescence of GM1 gangliosides (but not zona-binding molecules) suggestive of a specific mechanosensitive response. Thus, cholesterol efflux initiates diffusion (and possibly formation) of novel lipid raft-like structures containing zona-binding molecules over the sperm acrosome. We hypothesise that in combination with contact coalescence, these mechanisms concentrate important molecules to the appropriate site on the sperm surface to mediate zona binding. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Dev Biol
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology