Main content area

Injection of a porcine sperm factor triggers calcium oscillations in mouse oocytes and bovine eggs

Wu, H., He, C.L., Fissore, R.A.
Gamete research 1997 v.46 no.2 pp. 176-189
calcium, calcium channels, cattle, cytosol, dextran, eggs, fluorescence, heparin, inositols, mice, oocytes, proteinases, receptors, semen, spermatozoa, swine
Fertilization in mammals is associated with the generation of intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) oscillations. The site of, or mechanism(s) utilized by, the sperm to initiate and maintain these Ca2+ responses is not known. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that a factor from the sperm is capable, upon release into the oocyte's cytosol, of initiating oscillations. A sperm factor, prepared from porcine semen, was injected into mouse oocytes and bovine eggs that had been loaded with fura-2 dextran, a fluorescent Ca2+ indicator. The resulting Ca2+ responses were monitored and compared to those characteristic of each species. Our results show that injection of sperm factor triggered long-lasting [Ca2+]i oscillations, and that the observed patterns were species-specific. In mouse oocytes, sperm factor-induced [Ca2+]i rises exhibited high frequency, whereas in bovine eggs, Ca2+ responses were separated by long intervals. Further characterization of the sperm factor revealed that it was predominantly present in sperm preparations, that it contained a protein moiety, and that it was unlikely to be a protease. The intracellular Ca2+ channels/receptors through which the sperm factor-mediated Ca2+ release was investigated by using heparin, a competitive inhibitor of the inositol 1,4,5 trisphosphate receptor (InsP3R), and ryanodine, which binds the ryanodine receptor (RyR). The sperm factor appeared to stimulate InsP3R, at least in mouse oocytes, because sperm factor-induced oscillations were delayed or blocked in all oocytes by injection of heparin. RyR may be involved in the modulation of these oscillations, since addition of ryanodine modified Ca2+ responses to the sperm factor. The present results support the hypothesis that a factor from the sperm is involved in the generation of fertilization-associated [Ca2+]i oscillations.