Bee venom hyaluronidase is homologous to a membrane protein of mammalian sperm

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Apr 15;90(8):3569-73. doi: 10.1073/pnas.90.8.3569.


The venom of honeybees, Apis mellifera, contains several biologically active peptides and two enzymes, one of which is a hyaluronidase. By using degenerate oligonucleotides derived from the amino-terminal sequence of this hyaluronidase reported by others, clones encoding the precursor for this enzyme could be isolated from a cDNA library prepared from venom glands of worker bees. The deduced amino acid sequence showed that bee venom hyaluronidase is a polypeptide composed of 349 amino acids containing four cysteines and three potential sites for N-glycosylation. The sequence of the precursor also indicated that the conversion of the pro-enzyme to the end product must involve cleavage of a Thr-Pro bond, a most unusual processing reaction. The mRNA encoding hyaluronidase could also be detected in testes from drones. Expression of the cloned cDNA in Escherichia coli yielded a 41-kDa polypeptide that had hyaluronidase activity. Interestingly, the hyaluronidase from bee venom glands exhibited significant homology to PH-20, a membrane protein of guinea pig sperm involved in sperm-egg adhesion. These structural data support the long-held view that hyaluronidases play a role in fertilization.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acrosome / physiology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Bee Venoms*
  • Bees
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / isolation & purification
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Library
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hyaluronoglucosaminidase / chemistry
  • Hyaluronoglucosaminidase / genetics*
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA / isolation & purification
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*
  • Testis / physiology


  • Bee Venoms
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA
  • DNA
  • Hyaluronoglucosaminidase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/L10710
  • GENBANK/L10711