The findings, presented in Nature, gives a first glimpse into the molecular architecture of animal egg coats, with important implications for the future of human reproductive medicine and the possibility of developing novel contraceptives.
The beginning of every new life starts with fertilization, the most crucial step of which is the initial species-specific recognition between egg and sperm. The receptors for sperm, proteins ZP3 and ZP2, contain a common sequence that allows them to form a matrix of filaments, the so-called zona pellucida that completely surrounds the egg. The Protein Crystallography Unit at Karolinska Institutet, led by Dr. Luca Jovine, has now determined the structure of the most conserved part of this building block, the ZP-N domain.
"ZP3 was identified almost 30 years ago, but obtaining structural information on this key reproductive protein has been technically challenging due to its high heterogeneity", says Luca Jovine.
The zona pellucida is essential for natural fertilization in mammals. The Karolinska Institutet researchers hope that X-ray crystallographic characterization of a region of ZP3 that is important for its ability to polymerize could help explaining cases of human infertility, as well as lead to the development of novel targeted, non-hormonal contraceptives. The research made on the ZP-N domain has also provided insights that extend beyond the field of reproduction. Among other things, an unexpected parallel has been uncovered with molecular features that are involved in speciation among invertebrates.
Moreover, ZP-N domains are also found in many other extracellular proteins that are unrelated to fertilization, but play important roles in human diseases such as non-syndromic deafness, renal and vascular disorders, and cancer. In the Nature paper, an example is discussed that shows how the structure of ZP-N can be used to understand the molecular basis of some of these disorders.
"Mammalian fertilization involves a highly complex series of events. Our findings pave the way for future investigations into this fascinating subject by providing a first snapshot of the beginning of life at atomic resolution", says Luca Jovine.
The research was supported by Karolinska Institutet, the Swedish Research Council and the EU Sixth Framework Programme.
Publication: 'Crystal structure of the ZP-N domain of ZP3 reveals the core fold of animal egg coats', Magnus Monné, Ling Han, Thomas Schwend, Sofia Burendahl & Luca Jovine, Nature, 4 December 2008.
For more information, please contact:Dr Luca Jovine
Katarina Sternudd | idw
Team discovers how bacteria exploit a chink in the body's armor
20.01.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rabies viruses reveal wiring in transparent brains
19.01.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences