Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

December 1963


An earlier paper showed that in Saccoglossus the acrosomal tubule makes contact with the egg plasma membrane. The present paper includes evidence that the sperm and egg plasma membranes fuse to establish the single continuous zygote membrane which, consequently, is a mosaic. Contrary to the general hypothesis of Tyler, pinocytosis or phagocytosis plays no role in zygote formation. Contact between the gametes is actually between two newly exposed surfaces: in the spermatozoon, the surface was formerly the interior of the acrosomal vesicle; in the egg, it was membrane previously covered by the egg envelopes. The concept that all the events of fertilization are mediated by a fertilizin-antifertilizin reaction seems an oversimplification of events actually observed: rather, the evidence indicates that a series of specific biochemical interactions probably would be involved. Gamete membrane fusion permits sperm periacrosomal material to meet the egg cytoplasm; if an activating substance exists in the spermatozoon it probably is periacrosomal rather than acrosomal in origin. The contents of the acrosome are expended in the process of delivering the sperm plasma membrane to the egg plasma membrane. After these membranes coalesce, the sperm nucleus and other internal sperm structures move into the egg cytoplasm.


This work was originally published in The Journal of Cell Biology.



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