Oviduct fluid increases the time required for digestion of the zona pellucida (ZP) by proteolytic enzymes (ZP hardening). This effect has been associated with levels of monospermy after in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the pig and cow, but the possible existence of a directly proportional relationship between hardening and monospermy remains unknown. To investigate whether variations in hardening of different oviductal fluids (OFs) are correlated with variations in levels of monospermy after IVF, porcine oocytes were incubated with three batches of OFs known to produce different ZP hardening effects (3, 7, and 25 min); after IVF, monospermy levels were 0%, 14.58% ± 5.14%, and 35.14% ± 7.95%, respectively. These results could partially explain the lack of polyspermy found during in vivo fertilization in pigs (with a hardened oviductal ZP) compared with levels found during IVF (with no hardened ZP). Using the bovine model, OF was fractionated by heparin affinity chromatography, and the hardening effect on the ZP was tested for each fraction obtained from a linear gradient of sodium chloride concentration. The highest effect was obtained with the fraction eluted with 0.4 M sodium chloride. Fractions with high-level or low-level effects were processed by on-chip electrophoresis and high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. A list of potential proteins responsible for this effect includes OVGP1 and members of the HSP and PDI families.
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Vol. 89 • No. 3