• Human sperm;
  • Human zona pellucida;
  • Sperm antigens;
  • Tyrosine phosphorylation;
  • Immunocontraception


The present study was conducted to investigate the molecular identities, nature of interaction, and tyrosine phosphorylation activity of the spermzona pellucida binding proteins in humans. Sperm proteins belcnging to four major molecular regions, namely 95, 63, 51, and 14–18 kDa, reacted with zona pellucida proteins in the Western blot and immunoprecipitation procedures. In these procedures, zona pellucida protein that reacted strongest with the sperm proteins belonged to the molecular region of 55 kDa (ZP3), besides weakly reacting proteins in the 110-kDa (ZP1/ZP2) and 14–18-kDa molecular regions. The major forces involved in the sperm-zona protein interactions were of hydrophobic and ionic in nature. Three (95, 51, and 14–18 kDa) of the four molecular regions of sperm proteins that bound to the zona pellucida proteins also seem to involve o-phospho-L-tyrosine residues in their interaction, and these proteins demonstrated the presence of phosphotyrosine residues, and the 51-kDa protein also showed autophosphorylating activity in the in vitro kinase assay. The sperm binding zona protein of 55 kDa also demonstrated autophosphorylating activity. Using specific monoclonal antibody to the well characterized sperm-specific glycoprotein, designated FA-1, and the competitive inhibition in the immunoprecipitation procedure, it was found that the 51 kDa protein is indeed FA-1 antigen. Besides elucidating the molecular nature of the spermzona interaction, these antigens will find application in the development of a multivalent contraceptive vaccine, and may also help in specific diagnosis and treatment of infertility mediated through defective gamete (sperm or oocyte) function. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.