Cytochrome oxidase activity via cytochrome c, as demonstrated by the diaminobenzidine procedure, has been employed in this electron microscope cytochemical study to determine the respiratory potency, integrity and fate of the Arbacia sperm mitochondrion at fertilization and during early embryogenesis. The sperm mitochondrion remained intact and was intensely positive for cytochrome oxidase activity both during and after penetration into the egg. The mitochondrion remained highly reactive throughout zygote formation, up to the eight-cell stage. The sperm mitochondrion formed many projections and buds in the cytoplasm of immature oocytes, monospermic and polyspermic eggs, and in blastomeres. At all stages of early embryogenesis, close juxtaposition and structural contact were observed between the highly reactive sperm mitochondrion and the less reactive egg mitochondria. The results suggest that following fertilization the mitochondrion of the sea urchin spermatozoon retains some degree of metabolic autonomy within the ooplasm. The structural integrity of the paternal mitochondrion is maintained along with a functional respiratory enzyme system (cytochrome c-a3). The hypothesis that the fertilizing sperm mitochondrion may have some relevance to sea urchin development is discussed.

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