Evidence of elastic to plastic transition in the zona pellucida of oocytes using atomic force spectroscopy

Papi, Massimiliano; Sylla, Lakamy; Parasassi, Tiziana; Brunelli, Roberto; Monaci, Maurizio; Maulucci, Giuseppe; Missori, Mauro; Arcovito, Giuseppe; Ursini, Fulvio; De Spirito, Marco
April 2009
Applied Physics Letters;4/13/2009, Vol. 94 Issue 15, p153902
Academic Journal
We have investigated the mechanical properties of the zona pellucida (ZP), a multilayer glycoprotein coat that surrounds mammalian eggs, using atomic force spectroscopy. The response of the membrane to mechanical stress has been reconstructed using a modified Hertz model. The transition from elastic behavior, which occurs when low stress forces are applied (characterized by a Young’s modulus E=(22±5) kPa), toward plastic behavior is observed. The critical indentation necessary to induce plastic deformations occurs at δyield=(550±50) nm. This high critical value, corresponding to two ZP layers, well supports the noncovalent long lifetimes of interactions that take place between constituent glycoproteins.


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