In the starfish Asterias amurensis, acrosome reaction inducing substance (ARIS) is the main factor responsible for allowing sperm to recognize the egg jelly and begin the acrosome reaction (AR). ARIS is a large proteoglycan-like molecule, and its pentasaccharide repeat, Fragment 1 (Fr. 1), is responsible for inducing AR. Here, we investigated the primary structure of ARIS for the first time in order to improve our understanding of its functionality. Electrophoretic analysis revealed that ARIS is a complex of three proteins, all of which are modified by the Fr. 1 sugar chain. Sequencing indicated that there are two novel, conserved domains in all three ARIS proteins: ARIS N-terminus (AR-N) and ARIS C-terminus (AR-C) domains. We also found that other echinoderms possess ARIS proteins that are capable of inducing the AR for homologous sperm, indicating that ARIS proteins may be a ubiquitous component for echinoderm fertilization. Moreover, we identified ARIS-like genes from Ctenophora to Protochordata.
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