A cell-free cytoplasmic preparation from activated Rana pipiens eggs could induce in demembranated Xenopus laevis sperm nuclei morphological changes similar to those seen during pronuclear formation in intact eggs. The condensed sperm chromatin underwent an initial rapid, but limited, dispersion. A nuclear envelope formed around the dispersed chromatin and the nuclei enlarged. The subcellular distribution of the components required for these changes was examined by separating the preparations into soluble (cytosol) and particulate fractions by centrifugation at 150,000 g for 2 h. Sperm chromatin was incubated with the cytosol or with the particulate material after it had been resuspended in either the cytosol, heat-treated (60 or 100 degrees C) cytosol or buffer. We found that the limited dispersion of chromatin occurred in each of these ooplasmic fractions, but not in the buffer alone. Nuclear envelope assembly required the presence of both untreated cytosol and particulate material. Ultrastructural examination of the sperm chromatin during incubation in the preparations showed that membrane vesicles of approximately 200 nm in diameter, found in the particulate fraction, flattened and fused together to contribute the membranous components of the nuclear envelope. The enlargement of the sperm nuclei occurred only after the nuclear envelope formed. The pronuclei formed in the cell-free preparations were able to incorporate [3H]dTTP into DNA. This incorporation was inhibited by aphidicolin, suggesting that the DNA synthesis by the pronuclei was dependent on DNA polymerase-alpha. When sperm chromatin was incubated greater than 3 h, the chromatin of the pronuclei often recondensed to form structures resembling mitotic chromosomes within the nuclear envelope. Therefore, it appeared that these ooplasmic preparations could induce, in vitro, nuclear changes resembling those seen during the first cell cycle in the zygote.

This content is only available as a PDF.