The role of disulfide bond reduction during mammalian sperm nuclear decondensation in vivo

Sally D. Perreault, Robert A. Wolff, Barry R. Zirkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


These studies were designed to test the hypothesis that sperm nuclear decondensation and male pronuclear formation during hamster fertilization depend upon the ability of the fertilized oocyte to reduce sperm nuclear disulfide bonds. In a first series of experiments, treatment of mature oocytes with the sulfhydryl blocking agent iodoacetamide or the glutathione oxidant diamide caused a dose-dependent inhibition of decondensation in microinjected sperm nuclei. Inhibition of decondensation was not observed, however, when sperm nuclei were treated in vitro with dithiothreitol (DTT) to reduce disulfide bonds prior to their microinjection. In a second series of experiments, germinal vesicle (GV)-intact oocytes and pronuclear eggs, in which mature, disulfide-rich sperm nuclei do not decondense, were found to support the decondensation of disulfide-poor DTT-treated sperm nuclei or testicular spermatid nuclei. The decondensed sperm nuclei were not, however, transformed into male pronuclei. The results of these studies suggest: (1) that sperm nuclear decondensation in the hamster requires disulfide bond reduction, (2) that GV-intact oocytes and pronuclear eggs lack sufficient reducing power to effect sperm nuclear decondensation, and (3) that disulfide bond reduction is required but not sufficient for pronuclear formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-167
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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