DNA stability and thiol-disulphide status of rat sperm nuclei during epididymal maturation and penetration of oocytes
DNA stability and thiol-disulphide status of rat sperm nuclei was observed in vivo during maturation in the epididymis and penetration of oocytes. When spermatids and spermatozoa were stained with acridine orange after fixation with acetic alcohol, the red/green fluorescence ratio observed under a confocal microscope was not different between spermatids (3.81 ± 0.16) and testicular spermatozoa (4.03 ± 0.34), and then decreased sharply (p < 0.01) as the spermatozoa descended the epidymis to the caput epididymis (1.13 ± 0.03). However, the ratio was not different among corpus (0.69 ± 0.01), cauda epididymis (0.68 ± 0.11) and ejaculated spermatozoa (0.63 ± 0.01). On the other hand, when spermatozoa were labelled with monobromobimane (mBBr), the fluorescence intensities gradually decreased (p < 0.01) during passage of spermatozoa from testis (4.74 ± 0.16) through epididymis (caput, 2.72 ± 0.08; corpus, 1.07 ± 0.03; cauda, −0.05 ± 0.05; ejaculated, 0.08 ± 0.03). The acridine orange red/green fluorescence ratio increased (p < 0.01) during zona penetration (binding sperm, 0.52 ± 0.09; perivitelline sperm, 0.64 ± 0.16) and sperm decondensation (decondensed sperm, 0.69 ± 0.12). When spermatozoa in the perivitelline space were labelled with mBBr, the fluorescence was detected. These results demonstrate that DNA stability against acid appears to be ahead of the oxidation of protamine during sperm maturation in the epididymis and is an initial event of the unpackaging process in rat genome occurring during or just after zona penetration but before ooplasm penetration.(Received April 6 1999)
(Accepted May 1 1999)
Key Words: Acridine orange; Fertilisation; Monobromobimane; Rat; Spermatozoa.
c1 H. Funahashi, Department of Animal Science and Technology, Faculty of Agriculture, Okayama University, Tsushima-naka, Okayama 700-8530, Japan.