Evidence for the involvement of metalloendoproteases in the acrosome reaction in sea urchin sperm.

H. A. Farach, D. I. Mundy, W. J. Strittmatter, W. J. Lennarz

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35 Scopus citations


An essential initial step in fertilization in the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus is an intracellular membrane fusion event in the sperm known as the acrosome reaction. This Ca2+-dependent, exocytotic process involves fusion of the membrane of the acrosomal vesicle and the plasma membrane. Recently, metalloendoproteases requiring divalent metals have been implicated in several Ca2+-dependent membrane fusion events in other biological systems. In view of the suggested involvement of Zn2+ in the sea urchin sperm acrosome reaction (Clapper, D.L., Davis, J.A., Lamothe, P.J., Patton, C., and Epel, D. (1985) J. Cell Biol. 100, 1817-1824) and the fact that Zn2+ is a metal cofactor for metalloendoproteases, we investigated the potential role of this protease in the acrosome reaction. A soluble metalloendoprotease was demonstrated and characterized in sperm homogenates using the fluorogenic protease substrate succinyl-alanine-alanine-phenylalanine-4-aminomethylcoumarin. The protease was inhibited by the metal chelators EDTA and 1,10-phenanthroline, and activity of the inactive apoenzyme could be reconstituted with Zn2+. The metalloendoprotease substrate and inhibitors blocked the acrosome reaction induced either by egg jelly coat or by ionophore, but had no effect on the influx of Ca2+. These observations suggest that inhibition occurs at a step independent of Ca2+ entry. Overall, the results of this study provide strong indirect evidence that the acrosome reaction requires the action of metalloendoprotease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5483-5487
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Apr 25 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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