Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary Association of spermatozoa with blastomeres removed from the egg envelope was studied in order to investigate sperm membrane behavior under circumstances unlike those attending fertilization of normal envelope-enclosed eggs. Under the altered circumstances all parts of the surface of the sperm cell were afforded the opportunity of meeting blastomere plasma membrane. Nevertheless, in each case the spermatozoon first became activated, an acrosomal tubule formed, and it was this organelle alone which fused and established continuity with the blastomere plasma membrane. This behavior of the spermatozoon with respect to the denuded blastomere parallels the behavior of the sperm cell with respect to the envelope-enclosed egg at fertilization. Since the sperm cell behaves so similarly in two situations which are so different with respect to what the spermatozoon encounters, this behavior is considered to reflect the inherent nature of the spermatozoon, and analysis of this behavior in relation to a blastomere is considered to be valid also in relation to an egg during fertilization. It is concluded that membrane fusion, involving the acrosomal tubule of an activated spermatozoon, is the only means by which gametic union is established and that these are obligatory rather than fortuitous features of sperm-egg association in Saccoglossus. It is suggested that these features are probably obligatory also in other species which exhibit this pattern of sperm-egg association.
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