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October, 2006
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Ovum: A mature haploid female germ cell extruded from the Ovary at Ovulation.


JoVE 10907

During fertilization, an egg and sperm cell fuse to create a new diploid structure. In humans, the process occurs once the egg has been released from the ovary, and travels into the fallopian tubes. The process requires several key steps: 1) sperm present in the genital tract must locate the egg; 2) once there, sperm need to release enzymes to help them burrow through the protective zona pellucida of the egg; and 3) the membranes of a single sperm cell and egg must fuse, with the sperm releasing its contents—including its nucleus and centrosome—into the egg’s cytoplasm. If these steps are successful, the genetic material of the male and female gametes combine, and mitotic cell division commences, giving rise to a diploid embryo. The binding of the sperm and egg cell brings about various changes, among them the production of waves of calcium ions (Ca2+) pulsing through the egg cell. Such oscillations are initiated by sperm-egg fusion and result from both the release and uptake of endogenous Ca2+ in the endoplasmic reticulum of an egg cell and the simultaneous discharge and intake of such ions from the egg’s extracellular environment. Importantly, calcium signaling modifies the egg by causing vesicles, called cortical granules, that lay directly below its plasma membrane to release their contents into the open space bene

 Core: Biology

Probing the Limits of Egg Recognition Using Egg Rejection Experiments Along Phenotypic Gradients

1Department of Biology, Long Island University-Post, 2Department of Animal Biology, School of Integrative Biology, University of Illinois, 3Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 4Department of Zoology and Laboratory of Ornithology, Palacký University, 5Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

JoVE 57512


Lab Techniques - Student Protocol

JoVE 11136

Source: Smaa Koraym at Johns Hopkins University, MD, USA

Determining the Density of an Egg

Density is a measure of how compact a substance or object is, and it is calculated as mass divided by volume. When a dense object is placed in a liquid with a lower density, the object sinks; when the object is less dense…

 Lab: Chemistry

Meiosis II

JoVE 10768

Meiosis II is the second and final stage of meiosis. It relies on the haploid cells produced during meiosis I, each of which contain only 23 chromosomes—one from each homologous initial pair. Importantly, each chromosome in these cells is composed of two joined copies, and when these cells enter meiosis II, the goal is to separate such sister chromatids using the same microtubule-based network employed in other division processes. The result of meiosis II is two haploid cells, each containing only one copy of all 23 chromosomes. Depending on whether the process occurs in males or females, these cells may form eggs or sperm, which—when joined through the process of fertilization—may yield a new diploid individual. Although the goal of meiosis II is the same in both males and females—to produce haploid egg or sperm cells—there are some critical differences in this process between the sexes. For example, in a woman’s egg precursor cells, the meiotic spindle apparatus responsible for separating sister chromatids forms off to one side, near the periphery. This asymmetry allows for two cells of unequal sizes to be produced following meiosis II: a large egg, and a smaller polar body that dissolves. This division of cytoplasm ensures that the egg contains enough nutrients to support an embryo. The position of the meiotic spind

 Core: Biology

Reproductive Cloning

JoVE 10816

Reproductive cloning is the process of producing a genetically identical copy—a clone—of an entire organism. While clones can be produced by splitting an early embryo—similar to what happens naturally with identical twins—cloning of adult animals is usually done by a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).

In SCNT, an egg cell is taken from an animal and its nucleus is removed, creating an enucleated egg. Then a somatic cell—any cell that is not a sex cell—is taken from the animal to be cloned. The nucleus of the somatic cell is then transferred into the enucleated egg—either by direct injection or by fusion of the somatic cell to the egg using an electrical current. The egg now contains the nucleus, with the chromosomal DNA, of the animal to be cloned. It is stimulated to divide, forming an embryo, which is then implanted into the uterus of a surrogate mother. If all goes well, it develops normally and the clone is born. Although this process has been used to successfully clone many different types of animals—including sheep, cows, mules, rabbits, and dogs—its success rate is low, with only a small percentage of embryos surviving to birth. Cloned animals that survive to birth also appear to age and die prematurely. This is because their DNA comes from adult cells that have unde

 Core: Biology


JoVE 10905

Spermatogenesis is the process by which haploid sperm cells are produced in the male testes. It starts with stem cells located close to the outer rim of seminiferous tubules. These spermatogonial stem cells divide asymmetrically to give rise to additional stem cells (meaning that these structures “self-renew”), as well as sperm progenitors, called spermatocytes. Importantly, this method of asymmetric mitotic division maintains a population of spermatogonial stem cells in the male reproductive tract, ensuring that sperm will continue to be produced throughout a man’s lifespan. As spermatogenesis proceeds, spermatocytes embark on meiosis, and each ultimately divides to form four sperm—each with only 23 chromosomes— that are expelled into the male reproductive tract. Interestingly, this is in contrast to oogenesis in women, during which only a single egg is generated for every progenitor cell. At the end of spermatogenesis, sperm demonstrate their characteristic shape: a “head” harboring minimal cytoplasm and a highly condensed nucleus, as well as a motile tail (flagellum). They are small cells, with no organelles such as ribosomes, ER or Golgi, but do have many mitochondria around the flagellum for power. Just below the head is the acrosomal vesicle which contains hydrolytic enzymes to penetrate the egg outer coat—th

 Core: Biology
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