Receptors for Ricinus communis agglutinin I (RCAI), concanavalin A (Con A), and wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) were localized on the zonae pellucidae and plasma membranes of hamster, mouse, and rat eggs with ferritin-lectin conjugates. Intact eggs labeled with the ferritin conjugates showed dense concentrations of RCAI and WGA receptors in the outermost regions of their zonae pellucidae and sparse distributions of Con A receptors throughout the zonae. Ferritin-lectin labeling was specific, since inhibitory saccharides effectively blocked labeling. The asymmetric density of RCAI receptors across the zona was confirmed by ferritin-RCAI and fluorescein-RCAI labeling of mechanically isolated zonae pellucidae, indicating that the RCAI-binding sites are more densely distributed in the exterior zona regions. Plasma membranes of rodent eggs contained RCAI, WGA, and Con A receptors. These receptors were found to be more or less randomly distributed on surfaces of aldehyde-fixed eggs or on eggs labeled near 0 degrees C. However, eggs incubated at 25 degrees C showed aggregated WGA- and Con A-binding site distributions on their plasma membranes. This indicates that lectin-induced receptor redistribution occurs at this temperature. The possibility that plasma membrane receptor mobility is a requirement for sperm-egg fusion is discussed.

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