Oocyte CD9 is enriched on the microvillar membrane and required for normal microvillar shape and distribution

Kathryn E. Runge, James E. Evans, Zhi Yong He, Surabhi Gupta, Kent L. McDonald, Henning Stahlberg, Paul Primakoff, Diana G. Myles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Microvilli are found on the surface of many cell types, including the mammalian oocyte, where they are thought to act in initial contact of sperm and oocyte plasma membranes. CD9 is currently the only oocyte protein known to be required for sperm-oocyte fusion. We found CD9 is localized to the oocyte microvillar membrane using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed that CD9 null oocytes, which are unable to fuse with sperm, have an altered length, thickness and density of their microvilli. One aspect of this change in morphology was quantified using TEM by measuring the radius of curvature at the microvillar tips. A small radius of curvature is thought to promote fusibility and the radius of curvature of microvillar tips on CD9 wild-type oocytes was found to be half that of the CD9 null oocytes. We found that oocyte CD9 co-immunoprecipitates with two Ig superfamily cis partners, EWI-2 and EWI-F, which could have a role in linking CD9 to the oocyte microvillar actin core. We also examined latrunculin B-treated oocytes, which are known to have reduced fusion ability, and found altered microvillar morphology by SEM and TEM. Our data suggest that microvilli may participate in sperm-oocyte fusion. Microvilli could act as a platform to concentrate adhesion/fusion proteins and/or provide a membrane protrusion with a low radius of curvature. They may also have a dynamic interaction with the sperm that serves to capture the sperm cell and bring it into close contact with the oocyte plasma membrane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-325
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • CD9
  • Fertilization
  • Microvilli
  • Tetraspanin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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