The mammalian egg zona pellucida: Structure and function during fertilization

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In this brief review some of the roles played by individual ZP glycoproteins during the process of fertilization in mammals have been highlighted (Table 3). It is clear that ZP1-3 are structural glycoproteins necessary for assembly of the ZP during oocyte growth. In this context, there is evidence to suggest that the ZP domain of ZP glycoproteins is intimately involved in such assembly. Certain other functions of ZP2 and ZP3 can be attributed to oligosaccharides linked to their polypeptides. An example of this is the species-specific binding of acrosome-intact sperm to egg ZP3 O-linked oligosaccharides. Linkage of ZP functions during fertilization with specific ZP glycoproteins has already led to considerable progress in fertility research and contraceptive development. To date, no mutations in human ZP1-3 genes that cause infertility have been reported, but the issue is under investigation. Since mutations in the ZP domain of genes encoding tectorin cause from mild to extreme hearing disorders in humans,46-49 it is likely that comparable mutations in ZP genes will be linked to infertility in humans. Much progress has been made in fertilization research, but there remains a long way to go.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-125
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2003


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