Characterization of the coupling activity for the binding of inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor to hyaluronan in human and bovine follicular fluid

L ØDum, C Yding Andersen, T E Jessen


The plasma proteinase inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor is necessary for normal expansion of the cumulus-oocyte complex (COC) and lack of inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor results in severe infertility. After diffusion from the circulation into the follicles, inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor is incorporated into the extracellular hyaluronan network of the expanding COC. However, mixing isolated inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor with hyaluronan in vitro does not result in coupling to hyaluronan. Other components must be present. A recently developed electrophoretic technique by which hyaluronan-bound inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor is immobilized was used to demonstrate coupling activity in human and bovine follicular fluid that is necessary for the formation of a firm binding between inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor heavy chains and hyaluronan, as observed in vivo. No coupling activity could be detected in human serum. Coupling occurred only in the presence of follicular fluid. The coupling activity of follicular fluid was irreversibly destroyed by heat treatment, lowering of pH or tryptic digestion, indicating that the coupling activity is associated with a protein. Calcium ions are essential for the coupling reaction. The binding reaction in vitro using intact inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor is slow and occurs over 24 h. The early-formed complexes between inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor and hyaluronan contain small amounts of bikunin, whereas the end product contains heavy chains and essentially no bikunin. The heavy chains released from inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor by NaOH treatment bound immediately to hyaluronan, indicating that the dissociation of heavy chains from inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor is the rate-limiting step. In conclusion, at least four components are essential for the covalent binding of heavy chains to hyaluronan: inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor and calcium from plasma, hyaluronan and one or more proteins found in follicular fluid.

TidsskriftReproduction (Cambridge, England)
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)249-57
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2002
Udgivet eksterntJa


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