Bindin is a 30,000-mol-wt protein of sea urchin sperm that is responsible for the specific adhesion of the sperm acrosomal process to the vitelline layer covering the egg plasma membrane during fertilization. Sulfated glycoconjugates are believed to be the egg surface receptors for bindin, but the mechanism by which bindin associates with the sperm acrosomal membrane is unknown. Here I report that bindin specifically associates with phospholipid vesicles in vitro. Interaction of the bindin polypeptide with liposomes was found to cause an increase in the density of the liposomes and induce the aggregation of the vesicles. A novel property of this association of bindin with membranes was that it required phospholipids in a gel phase. The interaction of bindin with liposomes was greatly reduced at temperatures above the phase transition temperature. The interaction of bindin with gel-phase vesicles appeared to be reversible, since the aggregated vesicles dissaggregated as the temperature was raised above the phase transition temperature. Association of bindin with the bilayer did not alter the accessibility of the polypeptide to cleavage by trypsin, which suggests that most of the polypeptide chain remains exposed at the surface of the membrane.

This content is only available as a PDF.