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Mouse antral oocytes can be classified in two different types termed SN or NSN oocytes, depending on the presence or absence, respectively, of a ring of Hoechst 33342-positive chromatin surrounding the nucleolus. The aim of the present study was to test the developmental competence to blastocyst of the two types of oocytes. Here we show that following isolation, classification and culture of cumulus-free antral oocytes, 14.7% and 74.5% of NSN and SN oocytes, respectively, reached the metaphase II stage. When fertilised and further cultured none of the metaphase II NSN oocytes developed beyond the 2-cell stage whilst 47.4% of the metaphase II SN oocytes reached the 4-cell stage and 18.4% developed to blastocyst. The findings reported in this paper may contribute to improved procedures of female gamete selection for in vitro fertilisation of humans and farm animals. Furthermore, the selection of oocytes with better developmental potential may be of interest for studies on nuclear/cytoplasm interaction, particularly in nuclear-transfer experiments.
After spermatozoa bind to and penetrate the extracellular matrix of the egg, the zona pellucida, they adhere to and fuse with the plasma membrane of the egg. Since sperm–egg fusion may involve membrane glycoproteins and/or carbohydrate binding proteins, we sought to test this hypothesis by challenging sperm–egg fusion in hamster and in mouse with added carbohydrates. In this study, a number of carbohydrate and glycoconjugates were examined for their ability to inhibit sperm–eggfusion. In the hamster, D(+)-glucosamine, D(+)-galactosamine, albumin-bovine-glucosamide and-galactosamide, fucoidan and dextran sulphate inhibited the fusion of spermatozoa with zona-free eggs. The same effects were seen in the mouse, except for the toxic effects of D(+)-galactosamine. These facts suggest a role of carbohydrate binding proteins or glycoproteins in the fertilisation process at the level of binding to and fusing with the oolemma.
The plasma membrane (oolemma) of the hamster egg retains the ability to fuse with spermatozoa even after exhaustive treatment with proteases and glycosidases. In contrast, when mouse oolemma is treated with proteases, the ability of eggs to fuse with spermatozoa is reduced. In the present study, similar treatments effective in reducing fusibility in the mouse were reexamined in the hamster. Of the several enzymes and treatments tested, only trypsin in Ca2+-free medium significantly reduced the hamster oolemma's ability to fuse with spermatozoa. This is suggestive of a cadherin-like system of binding and fusion. When hamster oolemmae were treated with the same protease regimen that reduced fusibility of mouse oolemma for mouse spermatozoa, heterologous fusion of hamster oolemmae with mouse spermatozoa was reduced, without affecting the fusion of these oolemmae with hamster spermatozoa. These data suggest that a protease-sensitive oolemma molecule is of critical importance for mouse sperm-oolemma fusion but not for hamster sperm-oolemma fusion.
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