We have examined the carbohydrate specificity of bindin, a sperm protein responsible for the adhesion of sea urchin sperm to eggs, by investigating the interaction of a number of polysaccharides and glycoconjugates with isolated bindin. Several of these polysaccharides inhibit the agglutination of eggs by bindin particles. An egg surface polysaccharide was found to be the most potent inhibitor of bindin-mediated egg agglutination. Fucoidin, a sulfated fucose heteropolysaccharide, was the next most potent inhibitor, followed by the egg jelly fucan, a sulfated fucose homopolysaccharide, and xylan, a beta(1 leads to 4) linked xylose polysaccharide. A wide variety of other polysaccharides and glycoconjugates were found to have no effect on egg agglutination. We also report that isolated bindin has a soluble lectinlike activity which is assayed by agglutination of erythrocytes. The bindin lectin activity is inhibited by the same polysaccharides that inhibit egg agglutination by particulate bindin. This suggests that the egg adhesion activity of bindin is directly related to its lectin activity. We have established that fucoidin binds specifically to bindin particles with a high apparent affinity (Kd = 5.5 X 10(-8) M). The other polysaccharides that inhibit egg agglutination also inhibit the binding of 125I-fucoidin to bindin particles, suggesting that they compete for the same site on bindin. The observation that polysaccharides of different composition and linkage type interact with bindin suggests that the critical structural features required for binding may reside at a higher level of organization. Together, these findings strengthen the hypothesis that sperm-egg adhesion in sea urchins is mediated by a lectin-polysaccharide type of interaction.

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