Chapter 5 Sperm Guidance into Teleost Fish Egg

  • Ryuzo YanagimachiEmail author


Micropyle is a thin canal in the envelope (chorion) of teleost egg. This is the only place in the chorion that permits sperm entry. Spermatozoa swimming freely in water have one- or three-dimensional trajectory. Once in contact with egg’s chorion, spermatozoa initiate thigmotactic (sliding) motion along the chorion surface. Although this “two-dimensional” sperm movement facilitates sperm’s search for the micropyle, there is a specific glycoprotein around the outer opening of the micropyle which directs spermatozoa into the canal. It is called the “micropylar sperm attractant” or MISA. In herring, there is another known factor called the sperm “motility-initiation factor” or SMIF which renders intrinsically motionless spermatozoa motile. For herring, both SMIF and MISA are necessary for sperm entry into the micropyle. The herring micropyle is a thin, manhole-like canal with a slight depression of chorion around the micropyle. This is called Type I micropyle. Other fish with Type I micropyle, with or without a chorionic depression around the micropyle, include flounder, pollack, and munmichog. Some other fish (e.g., salmon, cod, and pufferfish) have a funnel-like micropyle with a wide, conical mouth (Type II). In fish with Type I and II micropyles, except for herring, sperm entry into the micropyle is possible without MISA; however, entry becomes inefficient as most spermatozoa swim over the micropyle. In another group of fish (e.g., goldfish, loach, and zebrafish), the chorion around the micropyle is deeply indented like a large sinkhole or has radially or spirally arranged grooves (Type III micropyle). MISA is absent from the chorion of Type III fish eggs. For fish with Types I and II micropyles, chemical interactions between spermatozoa and chorion around the micropyle assist sperm entry into the micropyle, whereas in those with Type III micropyles, sperm entry is purely physical. In this case, physical configurations of the chorion around the micropyle “directs” spermatozoa toward the micropyle.


Egg Fertilization Fish Micropyle Sperm 



I would like to thank Dr. Hiroyuki Munehara (Hokkaido University) for valuable information on internal fertilization in sculpin and other fish. I am grateful to Dr. Michael Ortega (University of Hawaii) for his active interest and giving me valuable advice on fish spawning behavior. His revising English in the original manuscript as well as preparation of many figures are greatly appreciated. I also thank Dr. Carol Vines (University of California), Dr. Tatsuo Harumi (Asahikawa Medical University), and Dr. Atsushi Sugawara (University of Hawaii) for generous assistance in the preparation of figures. Special appreciation is expressed to the University of Hawaii Foundation for providing me with Post-retirement Research Supporting Fund. Acknowledgements are due to Oxford University Press for letting me use figures published in Biology of Reproduction 96:780–799 (2017) and to Blackwell Publishing for figures in Development, Growth and Differentiation 34:447–461 (1992) and 38:193–202 (1996).


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HawaiiHonoluluUSA

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