Post-fertilization changes in the zona pellucida glycoproteins of rat eggs

Tamar Raz, Ehud Skutelsky, Ruth Shalgi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The zona pellucida (ZP) is the extracellular coat surrounding the mammalian egg. Numerous evidence supports the role of ZP carbohydrate residues as the specific sperm receptors. In this study we used lectins to study different distribution patterns of carbohydrate residues in the rat ZP, and to follow changes at fertilization. ZP were collected from follicular, ovulated, and fertilized eggs, incubated with one of 11 different biotin-labeled lectins, followed by avidin-fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) complex, and visualized by epifluorescent microscopy. For electron microscope (EM) histochemistry, eggs were embedded in LR white and ultrathin sections were stained with the complex Ricinus communis lectin (RCA-1)-colloidal gold. Some lectins (RCA-I, Glycine max) bound to the entire ZP while others were restricted to the inner or outer zones [Griffonia simplicifolia, Concanovalia ensiformis, Triticum vulgaris (WGA), succinyl-WGA]. Other lectins (Lens culinaris, Ulex europhaeus) were totally excluded. The RCA-1 binding pattern changed following sperm penetration, from homogeneous in ZP of ovulated eggs (57%) to uneven in ZP of fertilized (71%) or activated (68%) eggs. Our results demonstrate an uneven distribution of different sugar residues in the rat ZP, and a post-fertilization change in the distribution of β-galactose, which is specifically recognized by RCA-I, presumably correlated with other changes in the ZP that lead to the block to polyspermy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-403
Number of pages9
JournalHistochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996


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