A Disintegrin And Metalloprotease (ADAM) family members expressed in male reproductive tissues are divided phylogenetically into three major groups. In the present study, we analyzed six ADAMs in one of the groups (ADAMs 4, 6, 24, 26, 29, and 30) of which function is largely unknown. Our results showed that most of the ADAMs undergo unique processing during sperm maturation and are located at the surface of sperm head. We found that the levels of ADAM4 and ADAM6 are dramatically reduced in Adam2 and Adam3 knockout sperm defective in various fertilization processes. We observed premature processing of ADAM4 in the Adam3-null mice. Furthermore, we obtained a result showing complex formation of ADAM6 with ADAM2 and ADAM3 in testis. Taken together, these results disclose involvement of ADAM4 and ADAM6 in a reproductive ADAM system that functions in fertilization.
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Vol. 80 • No. 5