Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

The egg coat zona pellucida 3 glycoprotein – evolution of its putative sperm-binding region in Old World murine rodents (Rodentia: Muridae)

Christine A. Swann A D , Steven J. B. Cooper B C D and William G. Breed A C D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology, Medical School, and Robinson Research Institute, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

B Evolutionary Biology Unit, South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

C Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity, The University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

D School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, The University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: bill.breed@adelaide.edu.au

Reproduction, Fertility and Development - https://doi.org/10.1071/RD16455
Submitted: 14 November 2016  Accepted: 26 March 2017   Published online: 13 April 2017

Abstract

In eutherian mammals, before fertilisation can occur the spermatozoon has to bind to, and penetrate, the egg coat, the zona pellucida (ZP). In the laboratory mouse there is good evidence that the primary sperm-binding site is a protein region encoded by Exon 7 of the ZP3 gene and it has been proposed that binding is species specific and evolves by sexual selection. In the present study we investigate these hypotheses by comparing Exon 6 and 7 sequences of ZP3 in 28 species of murine rodents of eight different divisions from Asia, Africa and Australasia, in which a diverse array of sperm morphologies occurs. We found considerable nucleotide (and corresponding amino acid) sequence divergence in Exon 7, but not in Exon 6, across these species, with evidence for positive selection at five codon positions. This molecular divergence does not appear to be due to reinforcement to reduce hybridisation, nor does it correlate with divergence in sperm head morphology or tail length, thus it is unlikely to be driven by inter-male sperm competition. Other forms of post-copulatory sexual selection therefore appear to have resulted in the molecular divergence of this region of ZP3 in this highly speciose group of mammals.

Additional keywords: mouse egg coat, positive selection, spermatozoa binding.


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