Zona pellucida

The zona pellucida (plural zonae pellucidae, also egg coat or pellucid zone) is a specialized extracellular matrix that surrounds the plasma membrane of mammalian oocytes. It is a vital constitutive part of the oocyte. The zona pellucida first appears in unilaminar primary oocytes. It is secreted by both the oocyte and the ovarian follicles. The zona pellucida is surrounded by the corona radiata. The corona is composed of cells that care for the egg when it is emitted from the ovary.[1]

Zona pellucida
Human ovum: The zona pellucida is seen as a thick clear girdle surrounded by the cells of the corona radiata.
Identifiers
MeSHD015044
FMA18674
Anatomical terminology

This structure binds spermatozoa, and is required to initiate the acrosome reaction. In the mouse (the best characterised mammalian system), the zona glycoprotein, ZP3, is responsible for sperm binding, adhering to proteins on the sperm plasma membrane. ZP3 is then involved in the induction of the acrosome reaction, whereby a spermatozoon releases the contents of the acrosomal vesicle. The exact characterisation of what occurs in other species has become more complicated as further zona proteins have been identified.[2][3]

In humans, five days after the fertilization, the blastocyst performs zona hatching; the zona pellucida degenerates and decomposes, to be replaced by the underlying layer of trophoblastic cells. The zona pellucida is essential for oocyte growth and fertilization.


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