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Dev Biol. 1992 Jun;151(2):552-63.

Sperm-induced currents at fertilization in sea urchin eggs injected with EGTA and neomycin.

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MRC Experimental Embryology, St. Georges Hospital Medical School, London, United Kingdom.


Membrane currents were measured in single voltage-clamped sea urchin eggs (Lytechinus pictus and Lytechinus variegatus) that were injected with either EGTA or neomycin and inseminated. Although egg activation and the fertilization calcium wave were prevented by injection of either of these compounds, sperm attached and still elicited inward currents. Sperm-induced currents in EGTA-injected eggs had an abrupt onset, quickly reached a maximum, and then slowly declined in amplitude. Sperm incorporation occurred readily in EGTA-injected eggs. Similar results were obtained with another calcium chelator, BAPTA. In neomycin-injected eggs, sperm-induced currents generally had an abrupt onset and, in contrast to EGTA-injected eggs, the currents usually cut off rapidly. Sperm failed to enter the neomycin-injected eggs and the duration of sperm-induced currents in neomycin-injected eggs was markedly dependent upon the voltage-clamp holding potential, with shorter duration currents occurring at -70 than at -20 mV. The lability of the initial interaction between sperm and egg at negative holding potentials may explain why activation often fails when the egg membrane is voltage clamped at these potentials (Lynn et al., Dev. Biol. 128, 305-323, 1988).

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