Ovothiol replaces glutathione peroxidase as a hydrogen peroxide scavenger in sea urchin eggs

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Science  11 Nov 1988:
Vol. 242, Issue 4880, pp. 939-941
DOI: 10.1126/science.3187533


Despite its potential toxicity, H2O2 is used as an extracellular oxidant by Stronglylocentrotus purpuratus eggs to cross-link their fertilization envelopes. These eggs contain 5 mM 1-methyl-N alpha,N alpha-dimethyl-4-mercaptohistidine (ovothiol C), which reacts with H2O2. In consuming H2O2 and being reduced by glutathione, ovothiol acts as a glutathione peroxidase and replaces the function of the enzyme in eggs. The ovothiol system is more effective than egg catalase in destroying H2O2 at concentrations produced during fertilization and constitutes a principal mechanism for preventing oxidative damage at fertilization.