Electrical responses of eggs to acrosomal protein similar to those induced by sperm

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Science  27 Mar 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4796, pp. 1654-1656
DOI: 10.1126/science.3823908


The earliest known response of eggs to sperm in many species is a change in egg membrane potential. However, for no species is it known what components of the sperm cause the opening of the egg plasma membrane channels. Protein isolated from sperm acrosomal granules of the marine worm Urechis caused electrical responses in oocytes with the same form, amplitude, and ion dependence as the fertilization potentials induced by living sperm. Sperm initiated fertilization potentials in oocytes when sperm-oocyte fusion, but not binding, was inhibited by clamping oocyte membrane potentials to positive values. Acrosomal protein also initiated electrical responses in clamped oocytes. These results support the hypothesis that it is the sperm acrosomal protein that opens ion channels in the oocyte membrane.

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