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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Inhibition of sperm-zona binding by suramin, a potential 'lead' compound for design of new anti-fertility agents.

Progress in developing new contraceptive agents, particularly for the male, is extremely slow. Here, we report on a novel property of the anti-trypanosomal drug suramin: the ability to act at the sperm-egg interface and prevent fertilization. Suramin is a polysulphonated compound that inhibits binding of capacitated mouse spermatozoa to the zona pellucida in vitro with an IC50 of 12.4 microM. The drug is only effective at the time of fertilization and is not inhibitory if gametes are pre-treated separately. Autoradiographic localization of suramin binding sites on mouse, boar and human spermatozoa shows that they are intracellular, principally in the head region. The sperm protein recognized by suramin has been identified as proacrosin which is known to interact with sulphate groups on zona glycoproteins. Zona pellucida glycoproteins do not bind suramin, suggesting that the drug blocks the ability of proacrosin/acrosin, exposed during the acrosome reaction, to mediate the secondary binding phase of spermatozoa to the zona during fertilization. Structure-based design studies have the potential to generate safe suramin mimetics that would form the basis for a new generation of non-steroidal contraceptive agents.[1]


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