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Cell Calcium. 2004 May;35(5):433-47.

A wave of IP3 production accompanies the fertilization Ca2+ wave in the egg of the frog, Xenopus laevis: theoretical and experimental support.

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Department of Physiology, Center for Biomedical Imaging Technology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030-1507, USA.


The fertilization Ca2+ wave in Xenopus laevis is a single, large wave of elevated free Ca2+ that is initiated at the point of sperm-egg fusion and traverses the entire width of the egg. This Ca2+ wave involves an increase in inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) resulting from the interaction of the sperm and egg, which then results in the activation of the endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release machinery. The extraordinarily large size of this cell (1.2 mm diameter) together with the small surface region of sperm-receptor activation makes special demands on the IP3-dependent Ca2+ mobilizing machinery. We propose a detailed model of the fertilization Ca2+ wave in Xenopus eggs that requires an accompanying wave of IP3 production. While the Ca2+ wave is initiated by a localized increase of IP3 near the site of sperm-egg fusion, the Ca2+ wave propagates via IP3 production correlated with the Ca2+ wave-possibly via Ca(2+)-mediated PLC activation. Such a Ca(2+)-mediated IP(3) production wave has not been required previously to explain the fertilization Ca2+ wave in eggs; we argue this is necessary to explain the observed IP3 dynamics in Xenopus eggs. To test our hypothesis, we have measured the IP3 levels from 20 nl "sips" of the egg cortex during wave propagation. We were unable to detect the low IP3 levels in unfertilized eggs, but after fertilization, [IP3] ranged from 175 to 430 nM at the sperm entry point and from 120 to 700 nM 90 degrees away once the Ca2+ wave passed that region about 2 min after fertilization. Prior to the Ca2+ wave reaching that region the IP3 levels were undetectable. Since significant IP3 could not diffuse to this region from the sperm entry point within 2 min, this observation is consistent with a regenerative wave of IP3 production.

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