The distribution of polymerized actin in rat eggs fertilized in vitro was determined using NBD‐phallacidin (NBD‐ph). Unfertilized and fertilized eggs exhibited a 3–5‐μm‐thick band of fluorescence that encompassed the entire cortical cytoplasm. There was no dramatic increase in the staining of the cortex in association with any component of the fertilizing sperm during its incorporation into the egg. Unfertilized eggs and fertilized eggs obtained at intervals after sperm‐egg fusion were treated with cytochalasin B (CB; 5 μg/ml) and subsequently stained with NBD‐ph. Unfertilized eggs treated with CB exhibited a continuous ring of cortical staining identical to that seen in untreated eggs. Eggs treated with CB 15 min after sperm‐egg fusion exhibited small gaps in the cortical staining pattern, whereas those exposed to CB 1 hr after fusion exhibited larger gaps and the staining pattern appeared punctate. This pattern could be seen throughout the remainder of the 7 hr period of sperm incorporation and for at least 13 hr thereafter. CB‐treated fertilized eggs that were washed to remove the drug again exhibited uninterrupted cortical staining on treatment with NBD‐ph. CB also induced the resorption of surface elevations that are normally seen on the eggs during sperm incorporation, but it did not affect the morphology of unfertilized eggs. The sensitivity to CB during fertilization coincides with the onset of a variety of egg shape changes that occur during the period of sperm incorporation (Battaglia and Gaddum‐Rosse, Gamete Res., 10:107–118, 1984a). It is probable that activation of rat eggs by the fertilizing sperm induces a change in the state of actin assembly, which might be responsible, in part, for the behavior of the egg surface during sperm incorporation and subsequent developmental events.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology