Egg jelly coats from Rana utricularia are formed by components secreted along the oviduct. These secretion products overlay the oocytes as they pass along the different oviducal portions. In this study, carbohydrate chains of the jelly coat surrounding the eggs of R. utricularia were released by alkali/borohydride treatment. Fractionation of O-linked oligosaccharide-alditols was achieved by a combination of chromatographic techniques comprising anion-exchange chromatography, gel-permeation chromatography and HPLC on a silica column bonded with aminopropyl groups. Structural characterization was performed by one- and two-dimensional 1H-NMR spectroscopy in combination with matrix-assisted laser-desorption ionization-time of flight MS and methylation analysis. Ten oligosaccharide structures possessing a core consisting of Galβ(1 → 3)GalNAc-ol with or without branching through a GlcNAc residue linked β(1 → 6) to the GalNAc residue (core type 2 or core type 1 respectively) are described. The most representative carbohydrate sequences are: GlcNAc(β1-3)[Fuc(α1-4)]GlcNAc, GalNAc(α1-3)[Fuc(α1-2)]Gal(β1-4)GlcNAc(β1-3)GlcNAc and Gal(β1-3)GlcNAc(α1-3)[Fuc(α1-2)]Gal(β1-4)GlcNAc. The carbohydrate chains isolated from R. utricularia are quite different from those found in other amphibian species, in which the presence of species-specific material has been characterized. Since the jellies surrounding amphibian eggs are involved in egg-sperm interactions, these structural investigations can provide biochemical support for investigation of the fertilization process.

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