NO is necessary and sufficient for egg activation at fertilization.
The early steps that lead to the rise in calcium and egg activation at fertilization are unknown but of great interest--particularly with the advent of in vitro fertilization techniques for treating male infertility and whole-animal cloning by nuclear transfer. This calcium rise is required for egg activation and the subsequent events of development in eggs of all species. Injection of intact sperm or sperm extracts can activate eggs, suggesting that sperm-derived factors may be involved. Here we show that nitric oxide synthase is present at high concentration and active in sperm after activation by the acrosome reaction. An increase in nitrosation within eggs is evident seconds after insemination and precedes the calcium pulse of fertilization. Microinjection of nitric oxide donors or recombinant nitric oxide synthase recapitulates events of egg activation, whereas prior injection of oxyhaemoglobin, a physiological nitric oxide scavenger, prevents egg activation after fertilization. We conclude that nitric oxide synthase and nitric-oxide-related bioactivity satisfy the primary criteria of an egg activator: they are present in an appropriate place, active at an appropriate time, and are necessary and sufficient for successful fertilization.
Kuo, RC; Baxter, GT; Thompson, SH; Stricker, SA; Patton, C; Bonaventura, J; Epel, D
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