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Human spermatozoa can fertilize an oocyte only after post-testicular maturation and capacitation. These processes involve dynamic modification and reorganization of the sperm plasma membrane, which allow them to bind to the zona pellucida (ZP) of the oocyte. Defective sperm-ZP binding is one of the major major causes of male subfertility. Galectin-3 is a secretory lectin in human seminal plasma well known for its action on cell adhesion. The aim of this study was to determine the role of galectin-3 in spermatozoa-ZP interaction and its association with fertilization rate in clinical assisted reproduction. Our studies revealed that the acrosomal region of ejaculated and capacitated spermatozoa possess strong galectin-3 immunoreactivity, which is much stronger than that of epididymal spermatozoa. Expression of galectin-3 can also be detected on seminal plasma-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) and can be transferred to the sperm surface. Blocking of sperm surface galectin-3 function by antibody or carbohydrate substrate reduced the ZP-binding capacity of spermatozoa. Purified galectin-3 is capable of binding to ZP, indicating that galectin-3 may serve as a cross-linking bridge between ZP glycans and sperm surface glycoproteins. Galectin-3 levels in seminal plasma-derived EVs were positively associated with fertilization rates. These results suggest that galectin-3 in EVs is transferred to the sperm surface during post-testicular maturation and plays a crucial role in spermatozoa-ZP binding after capacitation. Reduced galectin-3 expression in seminal plasma-derived EVs may be a cause behind a low fertilization rate. Further studies with more clinical samples are required to confirm the relationship between galectin-3 levels and in-vitro fertilization outcomes.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Molecular human reproduction
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Membrane glycoproteins that constitute the ZONA PELLUCIDA in mammals and function in the recognition and binding of SPERMATOZOA.
Interactive processes between the oocyte (OVUM) and the sperm (SPERMATOZOA) including sperm adhesion, ACROSOME REACTION, sperm penetration of the ZONA PELLUCIDA, and events leading to FERTILIZATION.
Changes that occur to liberate the enzymes of the ACROSOME of a sperm (SPERMATOZOA). Acrosome reaction allows the sperm to penetrate the ZONA PELLUCIDA and enter the OVUM during FERTILIZATION.
A galectin found in the small and large intestine and the stomach. It occurs as a homodimer with two 36-kDa subunits and is localized to sites of cell adhesion where it may play role in assembly of ADHERENS JUNCTIONS.
A tough transparent membrane surrounding the OVUM. It is penetrated by the sperm during FERTILIZATION.
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