Structure of the cumulus matrix and zona pellucida in the golden hamster: a new view of sperm interaction with oocyte-associated extracellular matrices.
Hamster oocyte-cumulus complexes (OCC), with and without sperm, were structurally analyzed by light- and electron microscopy using freeze substitution. This method has yielded a clear picture of the extracellular oocyte investments, the cumulus cell matrix and the zona pellucida. The cumulus matrix has an overall homogeneous fibrillar structure which appears to attach to cumulus cells at their filopodial extensions. The matrix also extends into the outer regions of the zona pellucida. The zona pellucida has a distinct porous configuration throughout its entire structure. During gamete interaction experiments, capacitated hamster sperm with ultrastructurally intact acrosomes were found throughout the matrix. Sperm had dramatic effects on the matrix, resulting in compression and stretching. Sperm found on the zona pellucida had initiated or completed the acrosome reaction. During the initial stages of the acrosome reaction, the matrix was in contact with the sperm. At later stages of the acrosome reaction, there was a complete loss of matrix material in regions near the sperm.
Yudin, AI; Cherr, GN; Katz, DF
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