PH-20 but not acrosin is involved in sperm penetration of the macaque zona pellucida

Ashley I. Yudin, Catherine A. Vandevoort, Ming Wen Li, James W. Overstreet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


In this study, we investigated the functions of PH-20 and acrosin during the interaction of macaque sperm with the zona pellucida. Both of these sperm enzymes have been reported to be present on the inner acrosomal membrane of acrosome reacted sperm, and have been suggested to play a role during secondary sperm-zona binding in other species. Anti-macaque PH-20 IgG, anti- pig acrosin IgG and soybean trypsin inhibitor (SBTI) were used as probes for immunolocalization of the two proteins at the ultrastructural level, and as reagents for blocking sperm penetration of the macaque zona pellucida in vitro. As a control, we performed similar studies with antibodies to CD-46, which is also located on the inner acrosomal membrane, but has no known function in sperm-zona pellucida interaction. After labeling with anti- acrosin IgG, gold label was not present on the sperm surface before the acrosome reaction, but was detected over the entire head of sperm that were induced to acrosome react with calcium ionophore A23187. In contrast, when sperm were induced to acrosome react by binding to intact zona pellucida, acrosin was present in the acrosomal shroud but not on the inner acrosomal membrane. Similar results were obtained when SBTI was used as a probe for enzyme localization. PH-20 and CD-46 were demonstrated on the inner acrosomal membrane of sperm induced to acrosome react by ionophore treatment and by zona binding. Neither anti-acrosin IgG nor anti-CD-46 IgG affected sperm penetration of the zona at concentrations up to 300 μg/ml, but zona penetration was blocked completely when anti-PH-20 IgG (100 μg/ml) was present during sperm-oocyte interaction. Ultrastructural observations of oocytes incubated with anti-PH-20 IgG showed that acrosomal shrouds were present on the zona surface but no sperm had begun to penetrate into the zona substance. We conclude that anti-PH-20 IgG prevented sperm penetration of the macaque zona pellucida by interference with secondary sperm-zona binding, rather than primary sperm-zona binding or the zona-induced acrosome reaction. Acrosin was not detected on the inner acrosomal membrane of sperm that are induced to acrosome react after zona binding, and acrosin does not appear to be critical for sperm penetration of the macaque zona pellucida.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-362
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Reproduction and Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999



  • Acrosin
  • CD-46
  • PH-20
  • Sperm
  • Zona pellucida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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