Exocytosis in spermatozoa in response to progesterone and zona pellucida

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Science  02 Dec 1994:
Vol. 266, Issue 5190, pp. 1578-1581
DOI: 10.1126/science.7985030


Exocytosis in mammalian spermatozoa (the acrosome reaction) is a process essential for fertilization. Both progesterone and zona pellucida induce exocytosis in spermatozoa, which may encounter both during penetration of the oocyte's vestments. When mouse spermatozoa were exposed first to progesterone and then to zona pellucida, exocytosis was enhanced to a greater degree than that seen when the agonists were presented together or in the inverse order, which suggests that the steroid exerts a priming effect. Progesterone similarly primed the generation of intracellular messengers evoked by zona pellucida. The effects triggered by progesterone were mimicked by gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and were blocked by bicuculline, which indicates that the steroid acts on a GABAA receptor.