Distribution of lectin receptors sites in the zona pellucida of follicular and ovulated rat oocytes

R. Shalgi*, R. Maymon, B. Bar‐Shira (Maymon), D. Amihai, E. Skutelsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Carbohydrates of the zona pellucida (ZP) in mammals are believed to have a role in sperm‐egg interaction. We have characterized the biochemical nature and distribution of the carbohydrate residues of rat ZP at the light (LM) and electron microscope (EM) levels, using lectins as probes. Immature female rats were induced to superovulate and cumulus‐oocyte complexes were isolated from the oviduct, fixed with glutaraldehyde, and embedded in araldite for LM and LR‐Gold for EM histochemistry. For examination of follicular oocytes, rat ovaries were fixed with glutaraldehyde and embedded in paraffin. The araldite or paraffin sections were deresined or deparaffinized, respectively, labeled with biotin‐tagged lectins as probes, and avidin‐biotin‐peroxidase complex as visualant. For EM examination, thin LR‐Gold sections were labeled with RCA‐I colloidal gold complex (RCA/G) and stained with uranyl acetate. LM analyses indicate that in ovulated oocytes the ZP intensely binds peanut agglutinin (PNA); succinylated wheat germ agglutinin, (S‐WGA), Griffonia simplisifolia agglutinin‐I (GS‐I) and soybean agglutinin (SBA), and to a lesser extent, lectins from Ricinus communis (RCA‐I), Concanavaia ensiformis (Con A), Ulex europoeus (UEA‐I), and wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). The neighboring cumulus cells are considerably less reactive and exhibit membrane staining only with Con A, WGA, and PNA. EM analysis of RCA/G binding revealed intensive binding to the inner layer region of the ZP and moderate binding to cytoplasmic vesicles of the cumulus cells. The ZP of follicular oocytes exhibits a different lectin binding pattern, expressed in staining strongly with PNA and S‐WGA, and in a tendency of the lectin receptors to occur in the outer portion of the ZP. The results clearly reflect a change in both the content and distribution of sugar residues of the ZP following ovulation, which may have significance in fertilization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-372
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Reproduction and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1991


  • Glycoconjugates
  • Lectins
  • Oocyte
  • Rat


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