Publications and Research

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

June 1961

Abstract

This paper describes in some detail the structure of the acrosomal region of the spermatozoon of Hydroides as a basis for subsequent papers which will deal with the structural changes which this region undergoes during fertilization. The material was osmium-fixed and mild centrifugation was used to aggregate the spermatozoa from collection to final embedding. The studies concern also the acrosomal regions of frozen-thawed sperm prepared by a method which previously had yielded extracts with egg membrane lytic activity. The plasma membrane closely envelops four readily recognizable regions of the spermatozoon: acrosomal, nuclear, mitochondrial, and flagellar. The acrosome consists of an acrosomal vesicle which is bounded by a single continuous membrane, and its periphery is distinguishable into inner, intermediate, and outer zones. The inner and intermediate zones form a pocket into which the narrowed apex of the nucleus intrudes. Granular material adjoins the inner surface of the acrosomal membrane, and this material is characteristically different for each zone. Centrally, the acrosomal vesicle is spanned by an acrosomal granule: its base is at the inner zone and its apex at the outer zone. The apex of the acrosomal granule flares out and touches the acrosomal membrane over a limited area. In this limited area the adjoining granular material of the outer zone is lacking. The acrosomal membrane of the inner zone is invaginated into about fifteen short tubules. The acrosomal membrane of the outer zone is closely surrounded by the plasma membrane. At the apex of the acrosomal region a small apical vesicle is sandwiched between the plasma membrane and the acrosomal membrane. Numerous frozen-thawed specimens and occasional specimens not so treated show acrosomal regions at the apex of which there is a well defined opening or orifice. Around the rim or lip of this orifice plasma and acrosomal membranes may even be fused into a continuum. The evidence indicates that the apical vesicle and the parts of the plasma and acrosomal membranes which surround it constitute a lid, and the rim of this lid constitutes a natural "fracture line" or rim of dehiscence. Should fracture occur, the lid would be removed and the acrosomal vesicle would be open to the exterior.

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