Hinsch, Gertrude W. Department of Biology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.
Last reviewed:July 2020
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The male sex or germ cell (gamete). A sperm cell, or spermatozoon, is a mature male reproductive cell (gamete). The typical sperm of most animals has a head containing the nucleus and acrosome (a middle piece with the mitochondria), and a tail with a 9 + 2 microtubule pattern (see illustration). Sperm, as well as the acrosome shape, varies with the species. The nucleus consists of condensed chromatin, which consists of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and histone proteins. The acrosome, which is derived from the Golgi complex, contains hydrolytic enzymes, that is, hyaluronidases, capable of lysing the egg coats at fertilization. Actin molecules, which aid in the interaction between sperm and egg, are found in the area between the acrosome and nucleus. The mitochondria in the sperm's middle piece apparently provide the energy necessary for the motility created by the tail (flagellum). The tail has a central core, or axial filament, made up of nine double tubules and two central tubules. See also: Cell motility; Cell nucleus; Cilia and flagella; Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA); Fertilization (animal); Gametogenesis; Histone; Mitochondria; Reproductive system; Spermatogenesis
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