In an attempt to investigate the role of water influx in the extension of the acrosomal process of Thyone sperm, we induced the acrosomal reaction in sea water whose osmolarity varied from 50 to 150% of that of sea water. (a) Video sequences of the elongation of the acrosomal processes were made; plots of the length of the acrosomal process as a function of (time)1/2 produced a straight line except at the beginning of elongation and at the end in both hypotonic and hypertonic sea water (up to 1.33 times the osmolarity of sea water), although the rate of elongation was fastest in hypotonic sea water and was progressively slower as the tonicity was raised. (b) Close examination of the video sequences revealed that regardless of the tonicity of the sea water, the morphology of the acrosomal processes were similar. (c) From thin sections of fixed sperm, the amount of actin polymerization that takes place is roughly coupled to the length of the acrosomal process formed so that sperm with short processes only polymerize a portion of the actin that must be present in those sperm. From these facts we conclude that the influx of water and the release of actin monomers from their storage form in the profilactin (so that these monomers can polymerize) are coupled. The exact role of water influx, why it occurs, and whether it could contribute to the extension of the acrosomal process by a hydrostatic pressure mechanism is discussed.

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