The molecular machinery that mediates sperm-egg interactions at fertilization is largely unknown. We identify two partially redundant egg surface LDL receptor repeat-containing proteins (EGG-1 and EGG-2) that are required for Caenorhabditis elegans fertility in hermaphrodites, but not males. Wild-type sperm cannot enter the morphologically normal oocytes produced by hermaphrodites that lack egg-1 and egg-2 function despite direct gamete contact. Furthermore, we find that levels of meiotic maturation/ovulation and sperm migratory behavior are altered in egg-1 mutants. These observations suggest an unexpected regulatory link between fertilization and other events necessary for reproductive success. egg-1 and egg-2 are the result of a gene duplication in the nematode lineage leading to C. elegans. The two closely related species C. briggsae and C. remanei encode only a single egg-1/egg-2 homolog that is required for hermaphrodite/female fertility. In addition to being the first identified egg components of the nematode fertilization machinery, the egg-1 and egg-2 gene duplication could be vital with regards to maximizing C. elegans fecundity and understanding the evolutionary differentiation of molecular function and speciation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)