Membrane Fusions During Mammalian Fertilization

  • Bart M. Gadella
  • Janice P. Evans
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 713)


Successful completion of fertilization in mammals requires three different types of membrane fusion events. Firstly, the sperm cell will need to secrete its acrosome contents (acrosome exocytosis; also known as the acrosome reaction); this allows the sperm to penetrate the extracellular matrix of the oocyte (zona pellucida) and to reach the oocyte plasma membrane, the site of fertilization. Next the sperm cell will bind and fuse with the oocyte plasma membrane (also known as the oolemma), which is a different type of fusion in which two different cells fuse together. Finally, the fertilized oocyte needs to prevent polyspermic fertilization, or fertilization by more than one sperm. To this end, the oocyte secretes the contents of cortical granules by exocytotic fusions of these vesicles with the oocyte plasma membrane over the entire oocyte cell surface (also known as the cortical reaction or cortical granule exocytosis). The secreted cortical contents modify the zona pellucida, converting it to a state that is unreceptive to sperm, constituting a block to polyspermy. In addition, there is a block at the level of the oolemma (also known as the membrane block to polyspermy).


Zona Pellucida Acrosome Reaction Cortical Granule Perivitelline Space Sperm Surface 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and of Farm Animal Health, Research Program: Biology of Reproductive Cells, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Division of Reproductive Biology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyBloomberg School of Public Health, John Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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