Int. J. Dev. Biol. 52: 791 - 796 (2008)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.072521kz
© UPV/EHU Press

The evolution of sea urchin sperm bindin

Kirk S. Zigler*

Department of Biology, The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

ABSTRACT Sea urchins have been model organisms for the study of fertilization for more than a century. Fertilization in sea urchins happens externally, which facilitates the study of sperm-egg attachment and fusion, and means that all of the molecules involved in gamete recognition and fusion are associated with the gametes. Sea urchin sperm bindin was the first "gamete recognition protein" to be isolated and characterized (Vacquier and Moy 1977), and bindin has since been studied by developmental biologists interested in fertilization, by biochemists interested in membrane fusion and by evolutionary biologists interested in reproductive isolation and speciation. Research on bindin was last reviewed thirteen years ago by Vacquier et al. (1995) in an article titled "What have we learned about sea urchin sperm bindin?" in which the authors reviewed the identification, isolation and early molecular examinations of bindin. Research since then has focused on bindin's potential role in fusing egg and sperm membranes, comparisons of bindin between distantly related species, studies within genera linking bindin evolution to reproductive isolation, and studies within species looking at fertilization effects of individual bindin alleles. In addition, the egg receptor for bindin has been cloned and sequenced. I review this recent research here.


sea urchin, bindin, gamete recognition protein, Echinoidea, fertilization

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