Zona-binding inhibitory factor-1 (ZIF-1), a glycoprotein in human follicular fluid, reduces the binding of spermatozoa to the zona pellucida. ZIF-1 has a number of properties similar to those of glycodelin-A from human follicular fluid. The objective of this study was to compare the biochemical characteristics of these two glycoproteins. N-terminal sequencing and protease-digested peptide mapping showed that ZIF-1 and glycodelin-A have the same protein core. However, these glycoproteins differ in their oligosaccharide chains, as demonstrated by fluorophore-assisted carbohydrate electrophoresis, lectin-binding ability, and isoelectric focusing. ZIF-1 inhibited spermatozoa-zona pellucida binding slightly more than did glycodelin-A and significantly suppressed progesterone-induced acrosome reaction of human spermatozoa. Indirect immunofluorescence staining revealed specific binding of glycodelin-A and ZIF-1 to the acrosome region of human spermatozoa, where ZIF-1 produced a stronger signal than did glycodelin-A at the same protein concentration. These data suggest that ZIF-1 is a differentially glycosylated isoform of glycodelin that potently inhibits human sperm-egg interaction. Future study on the function role of ZIF-1 would provide a better understanding of the regulation of fertilization in humans.
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