"Capacitation" is a physiological event which alters sperm to permit rapid penetration through oocyte investments and fusion between gametes. Acrosomal "reaction," the physiological release of acrosomal contents, occurs after this facilitating process. In this study, acrosomal "disruption" of guinea pig and rat sperm was achieved in vitro by incubating sperm together with the follicular contents of superovulated mice. The samples contained both "reacted" and "disrupted" sperm. Thin sections of affected sperm revealed rupture and vesiculation of the plasma membrane overlying the acrosome, as well as loss of both the outer acrosomal membrane and the acrosomal content. Freeze-fracture revealed disintegration of the characteristic geometric patterns in regions of the acrosomal and plasma membranes thus disrupted and major modifications in particle distribution in the sperm tail. In the guinea pig, strands of 6–8-nm particles, usually confined to the plasma membrane of the midpiece, which overlies mitochondria, also appeared in the principal piece. Likewise, in rat sperm, bands of similarly small particles formed acute angles throughout the membrane of the principal piece. Compared with the membranes of control preparations, these membrane alterations are apparently a direct consequence of incubation with ovarian follicular contents.

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