Mammalian spermatozoa must mature in the epididymis before they can fertilize an egg. It is known that modification of the protein composition of the sperm surface is an important part of the maturation process. In this paper, we present data on two related glycoproteins that can be extracted from mature but not immature spermatozoa. Cell surface radioiodination has shown that these proteins are on the sperm surface, and immunofluorescence microscopy, by use of monospecific antibodies to the proteins, has indicated that their localization is restricted to the periacrosomal region of the sperm head. We have also shown that in vitro, these proteins will bind to the identical region of immature sperm. Immunohistochemical localization of the proteins in the epididymis shows that they are produced and secreted by the cauda region. The significance of the addition of these proteins to the sperm surface in both maturation and fertilization is discussed.

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