The PH-20 protein in cynomolgus macaque spermatozoa: Identification of two different forms exhibiting hyaluronidase activity

Gary N. Cherr, Stuart A Meyers, Ashley I. Yudin, Catherine A. VandeVoort, Diana G. Myles, Paul Primakoff, James W. Overstreet

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99 Scopus citations


In these experiments, we have characterized the bifunctional sperm protein PH-20 in macaque sperm and studied its hyaluronidase activity. Intact sperm were evaluated before the acrosome reaction (AR), and a soluble form of PH-20 released during acrosomal exocytosis was also investigated. Western blots of SDS-PAGE of acrosome-intact sperm extracts revealed a 64-kDa form of PH-20 was recognized by a polyclonal antibody (R-10) raised in rabbits against purified, recombinant cynomolgus macaque sperm PH-20. The soluble components released during the AR which were recognized by the R-10 antibody included both the 64-kDa form and a 53-kDa form of PH-20. An ELISA-like procedure for determining PH-20 hyaluronidase activity indicated that acrosome-intact sperm exhibited two peaks of hyaluronidase activity near pH 4 and ≥pH 7. The majority of enzyme activity in acrosome-intact sperm extracts occurred at neutral pH, while the soluble hyaluronidase activity released at the AR was predominantly acid-active, Hyaluronidase activity of PH-20 at different pH optima was investigated using hyaluronic acid substrate gel electrophoresis, and results indicated that the 64-kDa polypeptide had a broad range, with the majority of activity at neutral pH (pH 7). The 53-kDa polypeptide in sperm extracts only exhibited activity at acid pH (pH 4). The hyaluronidase activities of both enzymes could be inhibited by apigenin. The soluble PH-20 hyaluronidase activity released during the AR was primarily of the acid-active 53-kDa form. Fine structural localization of PH-20 using Fab fragments of R-10 IgG demonstrated that PH-20 was associated not only with sperm membranes, but also with the dispersing acrosomal contents. These data suggest that the more neutral-active form of PH-20 (64 kDa) is present on the plasma and inner acrosomal membranes and gives rise to the soluble acid-active form at the time of the AR. The generation of the soluble form of PH-20 may result from the action of acrosomal enzymes, which could include proteases, glycosidases, and phospholipases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-153
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 10 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


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