Fertilization of the sea urchin egg is accompanied by the assembly of an extracellular glycoprotein coat, the fertilization membrane. Assembly of the fertilization membrane involves exocytosis of egg cortical granules, divalent cation-mediated association of exudate proteins with the egg glycocalyx (the vitelline layer), and cross-linking of the assembled structure by ovoperoxidase, a fertilization membrane component derived from the cortical granules. We have identified and isolated a new protein, which we call proteoliaisin, that appears to be responsible for inserting ovoperoxidase into the fertilization membrane. Proteoliaisin is a 250,000-Mr protein that binds ovoperoxidase in a Ca2+-dependent manner, with half-maximal binding at 50 microM Ca2+. Other divalent cations are less effective (Ba2+, Mn2+, and Sr2+) or ineffective (Mg2+ and Cd2+) in mediating the binding interaction. Binding is optimal over the physiological pH range of fertilization membrane assembly (pH 5.5-7.5). Both proteoliaisin and ovoperoxidase are found in isolated, uncross-linked fertilization membranes. We have identified several macromolecular aggregates that are released from uncross-linked fertilization membranes after dilution into divalent cation-free buffer. One of these is an ovoperoxidase-proteoliaisin complex that is further disrupted only upon the addition of EGTA. These results suggest that a Ca2+-stabilized complex of ovoperoxidase and proteoliaisin forms one structural subunit of the fertilization membrane.

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