Summary. The acrosome reaction was induced in nearly 100% of mouse spermatozoa with dibutyryl cyclic guanosine monophosphate (dbcGMP) before ouabain treatment. Acrosome-reacted spermatozoa could not penetrate the zona pellucida, but readily fertilized zona-free eggs. Exposure to ouabain at concentrations as low as 10–7m had a noticeable inhibitory effect upon fertilization. Similar results were obtained with a second ATPase inhibitor, digoxin. These results show that ion-pump inhibitors block the union of gametes which are otherwise fully competent to fertilize. These findings suggest that a membrane potential maintained by ion pumps is a necessary prerequisite for gamete fusion.
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