An Improved Assay for Measuring Heparin Binding to Bull Sperm

David J. Miller, Roy L. Ax

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The binding of heparin to sperm has been used to study capacitation and to rank relative fertility of bulls. Previous binding assays were laborious, used 107 sperm per assay point, and required large amounts of radiolabeled heparin. A modified heparin-binding assay is described that used only 5 × 104 cells per incubation well and required reduced amounts of [3H] heparin. The assay was performed in 96-well Millititer plates, enabling easy incubation and filtering. Dissociation constants and concentrations of binding sites did not differ if analyzed by Scatchard plots, Woolf plots, or by log-logit transformed weighted nonlinear least squares regression, except in the case of outliers. In such cases, Scatchard analysis was more sensitive to outliers. Nonspecific binding was insignificant using nonlinear logistic fit regression and a proportion graph. The effects were tested of multiple freeze-thawing of sperm in either a commercial egg yolk extender, 40 mM Tris buffer with 8% glycerol, or 40 mM Tris buffer without glycerol. Freeze-thawing in extender did not affect the dissociation constant or the concentration of binding sites. However, freeze-thawing three times in 40 mM Tris reduced the concentration of binding sites and lowered the dissociation constant (raised the affinity). The inclusion of glycerol in the 40 mM Tris did not significantly affect the estimated dissociation constant or the concentration of binding sites as compared to 40 mM Tris without glycerol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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