Gamones


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Gamones

 

substances secreted by the sex cells that foster fertilization. By exerting a specific effect on the gametes of their own and the opposite sex, the gamones control their meeting and expedite the union of spermatozoon and ovum. Gamones were first discovered in the sea urchin in 1911 by F. Lillie. The term “gamones” was proposed in 1940 by the German scientists M. Hartmann and R. Kuhn. The substances secreted by female and male gametes are called, respectively, gynogamones and androgamones. Gamones are found in some plants (such as algae and fungi) and many animals (mollusks, annelid worms, echinoderms, and chordates).

Three substances have been discovered in the sexual products of female animals. The first is gynogamone I, which intensifies and prolongs the motility of spermatozoa; it is antagonistic toward androgamone I, a thermostable, nonprotein substance of low molecular weight. Gynogamone II (fertilizin) causes agglutination of the spermatozoa. According to Lillie, it is an indispensable element in the union of spermatozoon and ovum; however, according to more modern data, its function is the elimination of a considerable number of the spermatozoa approaching the ovum. In sea urchins, fertilizin is identical to the material of gelatinous casing and consists of a glycoprotein; a substance analogous in its effect is found within the ova of sea urchins (cytofertilizin) and bony fishes. The third substance is one that inactivates the agglutinating principle—antifertilizin of the ovum. In sea urchins it precipitates the gelling of the casing and causes agglutination of the ova; it is antagonistic toward gynogamone II and a protein.

Four substances have been found in the sexual products of male animals. The first is androgamone I (mentioned above), which suppresses the motility of spermatozoa. Androgamone II (antifertilizin of the spermatozoa) inactivates the agglutinating principle; it is similar in effect to antifertilizin of the ovum and is a relatively thermostable protein. Androgamone III causes liquefaction of the cortical layer of the ovum; it is a thermostable compound of low molecular weight (in sea urchins, apparently an unsaturated fatty acid). Lysines of the spermatozoon dissolve the ovum’s membrane. These are thermolabile proteins (in mammals, the enzyme hyaluronidase).

REFERENCES

Dorfman, V. A. Fiziko-khimicheskie osnovy oplodotvoreniia. Moscow, 1963.
Ginzburg, A. S. Oplodotvorenie u ryb i problema polispermii. Moscow, 1968.
Tyler, A. “Fertilization and Immunity.” Physiological Reviews, 1948, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 180-219.

A. S. GINZBURG

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