Cross-species fertilization: the hamster egg receptor, Juno, binds the human sperm ligand, Izumo1

Enrica Bianchi, Gavin J Wright

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Fertilization is the culminating event in sexual reproduction and requires the recognition and fusion of the haploid sperm and egg to form a new diploid organism. Specificity in these recognition events is one reason why sperm and eggs from different species are not normally compatible. One notable exception is the unusual ability of zona-free eggs from the Syrian golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) to recognize and fuse with human sperm, a phenomenon that has been exploited to assess sperm quality in assisted fertility treatments. Following our recent finding that the interaction between the sperm and egg recognition receptors Izumo1 and Juno is essential for fertilization, we now demonstrate concordance between the ability of Izumo1 and Juno from different species to interact, and the ability of their isolated gametes to cross-fertilize each other in vitro. In particular, we show that Juno from the golden hamster can directly interact with human Izumo1. These data suggest that the interaction between Izumo1 and Juno plays an important role in cross-species gamete recognition, and may inform the development of improved prognostic tests that do not require the use of animals to guide the most appropriate fertility treatment for infertile couples.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1661
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2015


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