Little is known about the molecular mechanisms that induce gamete fusion during mammalian fertilization. After initial contact, adhesion between gametes only leads to fusion in the presence of three membrane proteins that are necessary, but insufficient, for fusion: Izumo1 on sperm, its receptor Juno on egg and Cd9 on egg. What happens during this adhesion phase is a crucial issue. Here, we demonstrate that the intercellular adhesion that Izumo1 creates with Juno is conserved in mouse and human eggs. We show that, along with Izumo1, egg Cd9 concomitantly accumulates in the adhesion area. Without egg Cd9, the recruitment kinetics of Izumo1 are accelerated. Our results suggest that this process is conserved across species, as the adhesion partners, Izumo1 and its receptor, are interchangeable between mouse and human. Our findings suggest that Cd9 is a partner of Juno, and these discoveries allow us to propose a new model of the molecular mechanisms leading to gamete fusion, in which the adhesion-induced membrane organization assembles all key players of the fusion machinery. Development, 2014
Time evolution of fluorescence excess due to egg Cd9 recruitment in the contact area of a Cd9EGFP egg and a K562-RFP-Iz cell.