Structural features of the abalone egg extracellular matrix and its role in gamete interaction during fertilization

N. M. Mozingo, V. D. Vacquier, D. E. Chandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Abalone eggs are surrounded by a complex extracellular coat that contains three distinct elements: the jelly layer, the vitelline envelope, and the egg surface coat. In this study we used light and electron microscopy to describe these three elements in the red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) and ascribe function to each based on their interactions with sperm. The jelly coat is a spongy matrix that lies at the outermost margin of the egg and consists of variably sized fibers. Sperm pass through this layer with their acrosomes intact and then go on to bind to the vitelline envelope. The vitelline envelope is a multilamellar fibrous layer that appears to trigger the acrosome reaction after sperm binding. Next, sperm release lysin from their acrosomal granules, a nonenzymatic protein that dissolves a hole in the vitelline envelope through which the sperm swims. Sperm then contact the egg surface coat, a network of uniformly sized filaments lying directly above the egg plasma membrane. This layer mediates attachment of sperm, via their acrosomal process, to the egg surface. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-502
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular reproduction and development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1995


  • Acrosome reaction
  • Egg jelly
  • Quick‐freeze/Deep‐etch/Rotary‐shadow electron microscopy
  • Sperm
  • Vitelline envelope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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