Fertilization events following coalescence of the gamete plasma membranes and culminating in the formation of the zygote nucleus were investigated by light and electron microscopy in the sea urchin, Arbacia punctulata. Shortly after the spermatozoon passes through the fertilization cone, it rotates approximately 180° and comes to rest lateral to its point of entrance. Concomitantly, the nonperforated nuclear envelope of the sperm nucleus undergoes degeneration followed by dispersal of the sperm chromatin and development of the pronuclear envelope. During this reorganization of the sperm nucleus, the sperm aster is formed. The latter is composed of ooplasmic lamellar structures and fasciles of microtubules. The male pronucleus, sperm mitochondrion, and flagellum accompany the sperm aster during its migration. As the pronuclei encounter one another, the surface of the female pronucleus proximal to the advancing male pronucleus becomes highly convoluted. Subsequently, the formation of the zygote nucleus commences with the fusion of the outer and the inner membranes of the pronuclear envelopes, thereby producing a small internuclear bridge and one continuous, perforated zygote nuclear envelope.

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