Bindin, a protein component of the acrosomal vesicle of sea urchin sperm, has been isolated from Arbacia punctulata and strongylocentrous purpuratus. Using this isolated bindin, we have devised a quantitative assay for bindin-mediated egg agglutination and compared the agglutination of bindin eggs from A. puntulata and S. purpuratus. Bindin-mediated agglutination is species-specific in both species, although a measurable degree of heterotypic interaction is observed. Homotypic bindin-egg interactions differ significantly from heterotypic interactions both in the extent of agglutination and the size of the resulting aggregates. We also provide direct evidence that bindin particles agglutinate eggs by adhering to the surfaces of adjacent eggs. Although the A. punctulata bindin preparation displays the same functional properties and consists of one major polypeptide of the same apparent molecular weight as S. purpuratus bindin, its morphology is very different. Unlike the spherical aggregates observed with S. purpuratus bindin, A punctulata bindin exists as lamellar vesicles and binds significant amounts of phospholipids and Triton X-100, suggesting that it may be tightly associated with the acrosomal membrane.
Having defined a number of the basic parameters of bindin-mediated agglutination, we examined the effect of a number of saccharides and glycopeptides on bindin-mediated egg agglutination. Carbohydrate-containing components derived from the egg cell surface by proteolysis were found to inhibit bindin-mediated egg agglutination at low concentrations, but this inhibition is not species specific.