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Dev Biol. 2003 Dec 1;264(1):141-52.

Differential release of soluble and matrix components: evidence for intermediate states of secretion during spontaneous acrosomal exocytosis in mouse sperm.

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Pochon CHA University College of Medicine, Cell and Gene Therapy Research Institute, CHA General Hospital, Seoul, Korea.


Although its exact role in fertilization is unknown, the acrosome is a very important, exocytotic organelle overlying the anterior aspect of sperm from many species. Structurally and functionally, the acrosome can be considered to consist of soluble and particulate compartments. One component of the particulate acrosomal matrix is the zona pellucida-binding protein sp56. Our demonstration that this protein is within the acrosomal matrix and not on the sperm plasma membrane has led us to reexamine the events of acrosomal exocytosis and the role of the sperm acrosomal matrix in the fertilization process. To visualize the soluble compartment, we have utilized sperm from transgenic mice that carry soluble green fluorescent protein (GFP) in their acrosomes and, as a means to assess the exposure of acrosomal matrix components, we have tested the ability of these sperm to bind beads coated with antibodies to sp56. The loss of GFP from the acrosomes and the binding of the beads by the sperm undergoing capacitation serve as indicators of distinct stages of acrosomal exocytosis, allowing us to define intermediates of acrosomal exocytosis that occur during the course of sperm capacitation. These experiments demonstrate that the exposure and release of acrosomal proteins during spontaneous acrosomal exocytosis is not synchronous but is regulated during capacitation. Furthermore, acrosomal exocytosis under these conditions required calcium in the medium. On the basis of these findings, we propose an alternative model for acrosomal exocytosis that considers a role for these intermediates of exocytosis during capacitation and sperm-ZP interactions.

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