The fluorescent membrane marker, 1-anilinonaphthalene-8-sulphonate (ANS) was used to investigate the attachment of egg-yolk to the plasma membranes of ram spermatozoa. The degree of fluorescence was assessed using a subjective scoring system. It was found that egg yolk competes with ANS for sites on the plasma membrane. When the diluent contained 10% egg yolk, no ANS could be detected on the membranes. Egg yolk attached to the plasma membrane could be removed by washing twice with a yolk-free diluent.
Loss of sperm motility in the presence of ANS was observed but some spermatozoa remained motile after incubation at 37°C for 15 min with 2 mm-ANS. Egg yolk protected spermatozoa against this loss of motility. It is suggested that egg yolk protects spermatozoa during chilling and freezing by its attachment to the sperm plasma membrane.
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