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J. Tesařík

Summary. Rabbit polyvalent antiserum raised against the solubilized cumulus matrix was a powerful inhibitor of human fertilization in vitro, affecting sperm–zona pellucida interaction. Both sperm binding to, and penetration of, the zona pellucida were severely impaired by the anti–cumulus matrix antiserum, whereas no effects of this antiserum on cumulus matrix solubilization or penetration of zona-free human eggs were evident. Moreover, the anti-cumulus antiserum partly neutralized the acrosome reaction-inducing activity of the cumulus matrix. These results warrant further research into the functional specificity of different cumulus matrix components and into the effects of the respective antibodies on reproductive function as a possible lead to a new approach to contraceptive vaccine development.

Keywords: contraceptive vaccine; cumulus oophorus antigens; sperm–zona pellucida interaction; sperm acrosome reaction; immunoinhibition of fertilization; man

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J Tesarik

The feasibility of fertilization by injecting spermatozoa into oocytes has increased significantly the possibilities for treatment of severe male infertility. However, the rapidity of human application has raised some concern about potential health hazards for the progeny. Human pregnancies and births have also occurred with the use of immature spermatozoa and spermatids, and normal offspring have been born after the injection of secondary spermatocytes into mouse oocytes. This short review deals with the problems that may arise from the injection technique and from the use of deficient or immature sperm cells for fertilization, with particular attention to human applications. Tests for screening parents and follow-up of children are suggested to control the main suspected risk factors.

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J. Tesařík and V. Kopečný

Summary. Polyspermically penetrated human zona-free eggs prepared from oocytes that had failed to be fertilized in an in-vitro fertilization programme were used. The pronuclear synthetic activity was evaluated by high-resolution autoradiography and correlated with the development of pronuclear structure. Incorporation of [3H]thymidine, signalling the occurrence of a DNA synthetic phase, was only detected in structurally fully developed pronuclei previously shown to appear no sooner than 12 h after gamete union. However, [3H]adenosine was incorporated into very early pronuclei which had not yet completed the development of their nuclear envelopes and which first appeared about 4 h after sperm–egg fusion. In the absence of DNA synthesis (shown by the lack of thymidine incorporation), this early adenosine incorporation apparently reflects an early pronuclear RNA synthesis. Taken together, these results indicate that nucleic acid synthesis in human male pronuclei is tightly bound to the development of a corresponding pronuclear structure and that DNA synthesis, beginning about 12 h after fertilization, is preceded by a slight but evident RNA synthesis taking place during an early stage of human male pronuclear formation.

Keywords: pronuclear development; DNA synthesis; RNA synthesis; nucleolar development; human; zona-free eggs

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J. Tesarik, J. Testart and F. Nomé

Summary. Mice were passively immunized over 6 weeks with contraceptive doses of an anti-cumulus oophorus antibody preparation. The persistence of oestrus, accompanied by complete inhibition of conception, was observed throughout treatment. After cessation of treatment, fertility was restored within 2 weeks. Histological examination did not reveal any depletion of the ovarian oocyte stock. These results warrant further research into the nature of cumulus antigens and their use in active immunization studies.

Keywords: anti-cumulus antibody; immunocontraception; mouse; sexual behaviour; folliculogenesis

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J. Drahorád, D. Čechová and J. Tesařík

Summary. Components of human follicular fluid were separated on Sepharose 6B columns and the effects of different fractions on the conversion of pig proacrosin to acrosin were examined. A high-molecular-weight fraction (M r > 3 000 000) of follicular fluid was a potent stimulator of this reaction. The proacrosin converting activity was absent in the corresponding fraction of blood serum. The acceleration of proacrosin activation was dependent on the concentration of material with proacrosin converting activity. The results indicate that human follicular fluid contains a high-molecular-weight component of local origin which is capable of accelerating proacrosin in a dose-dependent manner.

Keywords: proacrosin; acrosin; zymogen activation; follicular fluid

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J. Tesařík, C. Mendoza Oltras and J. Testart

Summary. The effect of human cumulus oophorus on movement characteristics of human spermatozoa previously incubated in vitro under capacitating conditions was studied using automated digital image analysis. When spermatozoa were incubated for a short time with whole cumuli, most of those that penetrated the cumulus intercellular matrix were characterized by a linear movement with small amplitudes of lateral head displacement, but with elevated values of beat cross frequency. Short (5 min) incubation with solubilized cumulus intercellular matrix of spermatozoa preincubated in capacitating conditions (6 h) significantly reduced the percentage of spermatozoa showing the 'hyperactivated' type of motility characterized by high curvilinear velocity, low progressive velocity and elevated values of lateral head displacement. Moreover, a subpopulation of spermatozoa with very high values of progressive velocity and beat cross fequency and with reduced amplitudes of lateral head displacement appeared in these conditions. This cumulus-related motility pattern was not seen in fresh spermatozoa or in those incubated in the absence of cumulus material. Changes in the sperm movement characteristics similar to those observed in the presence of the solubilized cumulus matrix could also be induced by some of its h.p.l.c. fractions. These results show that the intercellular matrix of the human cumulus oophorus exerts a specific effect on human sperm motility, probably acting preferentially on the 'hyperactivated' sperm subpopulation.

Keywords: cumulus oophorus; sperm motility; digital image analysis; capacitation; human

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J. Tesařík, L. Pilka and P. Trávník

Summary. Human oocytes exposed to capacitated spermatozoa in vitro when at metaphase of the 1st meiotic division (metaphase I) were not penetrated, even though some subsequently progressed to metaphase of the 2nd meiotic division (metaphase II). When the non-penetrated oocytes that had reached metaphase II during the incubation with spermatozoa were freed from the zona pellucida and reinseminated, two or more pronuclei developed in most of them. By contrast, no penetration was observed when the oocytes were reinseminated in the zona-intact state. When compared with metaphase II oocytes, metaphase I oocytes had a similar zona-binding capacity for spermatozoa, but fewer spermatozoa were found within the zona. These results indicate that the zona pellucida of human oocytes undergoes important maturational changes during the transition from metaphase I to metaphase II. Ultrastructural and previous histochemical findings suggest that these changes involve secretions from both the oocyte and cumulus cells and that the increased zona resistance at metaphase I may be due to relative insufficiency of cumulus cell-secreted 'softening' factors. If the integrity of the cumulus oophorus is disturbed at this stage, this condition becomes irreversible.

Keywords: zona pellucida maturation; sperm–egg interaction; oocyte meiosis; cumulus cells; human

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J. Drahorád, J. Tesařík, D. Čechová and V. Vilím

Summary. Human cumuli–oophori were cultured in vitro in the presence of radioactive protein and polysaccharide precursors. The time course of the cumulus cell secretion was traced by histoautoradiography. Matrix solubilization, and sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and high-performance liquid chromatography showed that proteoglycan (M r > 1 700 000) was the main cumulus cell product that was prevailingly deposited in the cumulus intercellular matrix and partly released into the culture medium. It was capable of accelerating the conversion of proacrosin to acrosin and this activity was abolished by enzymatic removal of chondroitin sulphate, the predominant glycosaminoglycan of this proteoglycan fraction. None of the other fractions, including a proteoglycan of M r 80 000–90 000, containing heparan sulphate, accelerated the conversion of proacrosin to acrosin under the conditions used. The results suggest that chondroitin sulphate is the active component of the high-M r proacrosin activator of the human cumulus–oophorus.

Keywords: fertilization; proacrosin activation; acrosin; cumulus–oophorus; man

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C. Mendoza, A. Carreras, J. Moos and J. Tesarik

Summary. When western blots of human sperm proteins solubilized by acid extraction (presumably mainly acrosomal proteins) or by sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) were probed with biotin-conjugated Pisum sativum agglutinin (PSA), distinct sets of proteins were labelled in both preparations. When smears of human spermatozoa were treated with methanol either for 30 s or for 15 min and then exposed to FITC-conjugated PSA, the resulting fluorescence pattern essentially depended on the time of methanol treatment. With the longer treatment, fewer spermatozoa showed selective acrosomal labelling and more were labelled uniformly throughout, without a clear predilection for a single sperm region. With the shorter time of methanol treatment, the poorly topographically differentiated, whole-cell labelling was typical of dead spermatozoa as confirmed by a close correlation between the percentages of spermatozoa showing this type of labelling and of those stained supravitally with Hoechst 33258. The preferential whole-cell labelling of dead spermatozoa with PSA is considered to be due to increased availability of the nonacrosomal set of PSA-reactive sites in dead spermatozoa after a short treatment with methanol, whereas this treatment is probably not sufficient to expose most of these sites when applied to living spermatozoa. The simplicity of the staining protocol makes this method feasible in routine work in a number of clinical and research applications.

Keywords: acrosomal staining; acrosome reaction; sperm viability; human

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J. Tesařík, V. Kopečný, M. Plachot and J. Mandelbaum

Summary. RNA synthetic activity of human 2–16-cell embryos developing in vitro was studied by [3H]uridine light-microscope autoradiography. Parallelly cut thin sections were examined in the electron microscope. The first extranucleolar RNA synthesis was detected in 4-cell embryos, but nucleoli were never labelled until the 3rd cleavage (6–8-cell embryos). In 6-cell embryos the nucleolar labelling was mostly confined to a narrow peripheral zone. In later cleavage stages most of the blastomeres showed intensive labelling of nucleoli and extranucleolar chromatin. However, rather low levels of extranucleolar RNA synthesis and the absence of nucleolar activity were often seen even in blastomeres of fully compacted morulae. The activation of nucleolar RNA synthesis entailed a noticeable increase in the number of ribosomes (estimated by electron microscope morphometry) that followed a marked drop during the period between the 2-cell and 8-cell stages. The results indicate that the concentration of ribosomes in the preovulatory oocyte is a major factor of its developmental potential.