Membrane fusions during mammalian fertilization

Bart M. Gadella, Janice Perry Evans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

49 Scopus citations


Successful completion of fertilization in mammals requires three different types of membrane fusion events. Firstly, the sperm cell will need to secrete its acrosome contents (acrosome exocytosis; also known as the acrosome reaction); this allows the sperm to penetrate the extracellular matrix of the oocyte (zona pellucida) and to reach the oocyte plasma membrane, the site of fertilization. Next the sperm cell will bind and fuse with the oocyte plasma membrane (also known as the oolemma), which is a different type of fusion in which two different cells fuse together. Finally, the fertilized oocyte needs to prevent polyspermic fertilization, or fertilization by more than one sperm. To this end, the oocyte secretes the contents of cortical granules by exocytotic fusions of these vesicles with the oocyte plasma membrane over the entire oocyte cell surface (also known as the cortical reaction or cortical granule exocytosis). The secreted cortical contents modify the zona pellucida, converting it to a state that is unreceptive to sperm, constituting a block to polyspermy. In addition, there is a block at the level of the oolemma (also known as the membrane block to polyspermy).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2011

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)00652598

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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