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J Cell Physiol. 2009 Sep;220(3):611-20. doi: 10.1002/jcp.21781.

Acrosomal exocytosis of mouse sperm progresses in a consistent direction in response to zona pellucida.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Center for Research on Reproduction and Women's Health, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6160, USA.


Sperm acrosomal exocytosis is essential for successful fertilization, and the zona pellucida (ZP) has been classically considered as the primary initiator in vivo. At present, following what is referred to as primary binding of the sperm to the ZP, the acrosome reaction paradigm posits that the outer acrosomal membrane and plasma membrane fuse at random points, releasing the contents of the acrosome. It is then assumed that the inner acrosomal membrane mediates secondary binding of the sperm to the ZP. In the present work we used a live fluorescence imaging system and mouse sperm containing enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) in their acrosomes. We compared the processes of acrosomal exocytosis stimulated by the calcium ionophore ionomycin or by solubilized ZP. As monitored by the loss of EGFP from the sperm, acrosomal exocytosis driven by these two agents occurred differently. When ionomycin was used, exocytosis started randomly (no preference for the anterior, middle or posterior acrosomal regions). In contrast, following treatment with solubilized ZP, the loss of acrosomal components always started at the posterior zone of the acrosome and progressed in an anterograde direction. The exocytosis was slower when stimulated with ZP and on the order of 10 sec, which is in accordance with other reports. These results demonstrate that ZP stimulates acrosomal exocytosis in an orderly manner and suggest that a receptor-mediated event controls this process of membrane fusion and release of acrosomal components. These findings are incorporated into a model.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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