The proteolytic enzyme acrosin within the acrosome is liberated and the bound enzyme exposed on the inner acrosome membrane after the acrosome reaction. The amount of acrosin in the head has been measured from the area of a gelatin film that is digested by the enzyme released from sperm dried on the film (Fig. 4.2F). A smaller area of digestion is found around more mature sperm heads (Haidl et al., 1994), but this may indicate a shift from soluble to bound acrosin rather than a loss of enzyme or reduction in activity. Bedford (2004) has emphasised the need for propulsive thrust in zona penetration rather than lytic enzymatic action.
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