CD9 is a widely expressed cell surface molecule that belongs to the tetraspanin superfamily of proteins. The tetraspanins CD9, KAI-1/CD82, and CD63 are involved in metastasis suppression, an effect that may be related to their association with beta1 integrins. Knockout mice lacking CD9 were created to evaluate the physiological importance of CD9. CD9-/- females displayed a severe reduction of fertility. Oocytes were ovulated but were not successfully fertilized because sperm did not fuse with the oocytes from CD9-/- females. Thus, CD9 appears to be essential for sperm-egg fusion, a process involving the CD9-associated integrin alpha6beta1.
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