The objectives of this study were to 1) purify and characterize vitellogenin-derived yolk proteins of white perch (Morone americana), 2) develop a nonisotopic receptor binding assay for vitellogenin, and 3) identify the yolk protein domains of vitellogenin recognized by the ovarian vitellogenin receptor. Four yolk proteins derived from vitellogenin (YP1, YP2 monomer [YP2m] and dimer [YP2d], and YP3) were isolated from ovaries of vitellogenic perch by selective precipitation, ion exchange chromatography, and gel filtration. The apparent molecular masses of purified YP1, YP2m, and YP2d after gel filtration were 310 kDa, 17 kDa, and 27 kDa, respectively. YP3 appeared in SDS-PAGE as a ∼20-kDa band plus some diffuse smaller bands that could be visualized by staining for phosphoprotein with Coomassie Brilliant Blue complexed with aluminum nitrate. Immunological and biochemical characteristics of YP1, YP2s, and YP3 identified them as white perch lipovitellin, β′-components, and phosvitin, respectively. A novel receptor-binding assay for vitellogenin was developed based on digoxigenin (DIG)-labeled vitellogenin tracer binding to ovarian membrane proteins immobilized in 96-well plates. Lipovitellin from white perch and vitellogenin from perch and other teleosts effectively displaced specifically bound DIG-vitellogenin in the assay, but phosvitin and the β′-component could not, demonstrating for the first time that the lipovitellin domain of teleost vitellogenin mediates its binding to the oocyte receptor. Lipovitellin was less effective than vitellogenin in this regard, suggesting that the remaining yolk protein domains of vitellogenin may interact with its lipovitellin domain to facilitate binding of vitellogenin to its receptor.
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