Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) labeled lectins were used to study the distribution of specific binding sites in histologic sections of mouse ovaries as well as ovulated ova. Four distinct patterns of reactivity of the components of the follicle (exclusive of the ovum) and the surrounding ovarian stroma were recognized: 1. uniform staining of granulosa cells, theca cells and surrounding stroma; 2. weak to moderate staining of the granulosa cells and strong staining of the theca cells and stromal cells; 3. no reactivity of the granulosa cells coupled with strong reactivity of the theca and stromal cells; 4. no reactivity with any component of the cumulus oophorus. Three lectins (from Triticum vulgare, Arachis hypogaea and Maclura pomifera) distinctly accentuated the basal lamina of the cumulus oophorus. The reaction of lectins with oocytes and zona pellucida revealed six distinct patterns: 1. no reactivity with either structure; 2. weak reactivity with the cytoplasm of the oocyte and no reactivity with the zona pellucida; 3. very strong reactivity with the cytoplasm of the oocyte and no reactivity with the zona pellucida; 4. moderate reactivity with both the oocyte and the zona pellucida; 5. moderate reactivity with the oocyte and very strong reactivity with the zona pellucida; 6. no reactivity with the oocyte and moderate reactivity with the zona pellucida. The same pattern of reactivity was seen in the ovulated ova in the oviduct except for the lectin from Arachis hypogaea, the reactivity of which changed upon ovulation and/or fertilization of the ovum. These data provide a list of lectin markers for distinct components of the mouse ovary.
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