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Heparin and Heparin Binding Proteins: Potential Relevance to Reproductive Physiology

[ Vol. 14 , Issue. 1 ]


Vikash Kumar Yadav, Mayank Saraswat, Nirmal Chhikara, Sarman Singh and Savita Yadav   Pages 61 - 69 ( 9 )


Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) have crucial roles in cell-cell interaction and communication. The communication between sperm and egg during fertilization is the finest example of intercellular communication involving a proteincarbohydrate recognition system. GAGs, especially heparin, are implicated in various processes, such as capacitation, acrosome reaction (AR), and sperm nuclei decondensation by interacting with a wide range of proteins, leading to fertilization.

Seminal plasma (SP) comprises of multiple proteins that bind to heparin and related GAGs. Heparin binding proteins (HBPs) originating from secretions of the male accessory sex glands are known to play a vital role during fertilization events. They interact with GAGs present in the female genital tract and enhance the subsequent zona pellucida-induced AR, and thus have been correlated with fertility in some species. Several carbohydrate and zona pellucida-binding proteins, many of which belong to the spermadhesin family, are identified as HBPs. Many studies have been documented about the potential physiological role of some HBPs in various steps of fertilization. However, there is insufficient knowledge about functions executed by various HBPs and their exact mechanism and pathways. An in-depth knowledge of HBPs and their role in fertilization is of fundamental importance to resolve biological pathways and protein interactions at the molecular level. This review surveys some of the relevant findings supporting the potential role of heparin and HBPs in reproduction. It also describes consensus heparin binding sites emerging from known literature on HBPs that interact with heparin.


Glycosaminoglycans, fertilization, heparin, HBPs, seminal plasma


Department of Biophysics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi- 110029, INDIA.

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