Life and Medical Sciences
Cell & Developmental Biology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
The surface topography of the rat egg was examined during fertilization in vitro and in vivo. Using phase optics, 348 in vitro fertilized and 50 in vivo fertilized eggs were continuously monitored throughout the 7-hour period of sperm incorporation. A myriad of different surface configurations were seen, with each egg exhibiting one or more of the following changes. A small number of eggs (4-6%) formed surface elevations over the sperm head after its detachment from the flagellum, 15-30 min after sperm-egg fusion; 1 to 1.5 hr after fusion, 40-50% of the eggs produced the so-called incorporation cone, a prominent surface elevation over the decondensing sperm nucleus. The vast majority of eggs (74-82%) formed surface elevations over the proximal tip of the flagellum 2-3 hr after sperm-egg fusion. These had no association with the decondensing sperm nucleus. A few eggs (11-12%) exhibited multiple protrusions that were distributed randomly about the egg surface, whereas 14-20% did not manifest any surface elevations and remained spherical throughout the sperm incorporation period. Regardless of the type of surface change, all of the eggs resumed a spherical shape by the time sperm incorporation was complete. These observations are in contrast to the conclusions by previous authors that formation of the so-called incorporation cone over the decondensing sperm nucleus is a ubiquitous event.
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