Egg jelly proteins stimulate directed motility in Xenopus laevis sperm

Lindsey A. Burnett, Hitoshi Sugiyama, Allan L. Bieber, Douglas E. Chandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Previously we have shown that extracts from Xenopus egg jelly (egg water) increase the passage of sperm through a porous membrane in a dose-dependent manner. Although this assay has shown that sperm accumulation occurs only in the presence of an egg water gradient, it has not revealed the dynamic features of how Xenopus sperm swim in such gradients. Here, we use video microscopic observations to trace sperm trajectories in a Zigmond chamber. Our results show that Xenopus sperm swim in linear and gently curving paths and only infrequently perform turns. In the presence of an egg water gradient, however, the percent of sperm swimming up the gradient axis and the net distance traveled by each sperm along this axis was increased significantly. There was no change in curvilinear velocity. Rather, the orientation of sperm travel was shifted to more closely match that of the gradient axis. In addition, using a porous filter assay, we demonstrate that the egg water protein allurin, in both purified and recombinant forms, stimulates directed motility of sperm. Finally, we use Oregon Green 488-conjugated allurin to show that this protein binds primarily to the sperm midpiece; binding of allurin to the entire head was observed in a minor subpopulation of sperm. Dose dependence of allurin binding occurred over the 0-1μg/ml range and correlated well with previously published dose-dependent sperm attraction data. Binding was rapid with a half-time of about 10sec. These data suggest that egg water proteins bind to sperm and modify sperm-orienting behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-462
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular reproduction and development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Allurin
  • Amphibian egg jelly
  • Crisp proteins
  • Directed sperm motility
  • Fertilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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