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Dev Biol. 1989 Aug;134(2):438-45.

An electrically mediated block to polyspermy in the primitive urodele Hynobius nebulosus and phylogenetic comparison with other amphibians.

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Biological Institute, Faculty of Science, Yamaguchi University, Japan.


At fertilization, the egg of the primitive urodele, Hynobius nebulosus, produced a fertilization potential which rose from -12 to +47 mV. A similar activation potential was elicited by pricking with a needle, by applying A23187, or by electric shock. The potential change was mediated by an increased permeability to Cl-. Clamping the egg's membrane potential at +40 mV blocked fertilization, while clamping at +20 mV induced polyspermy. These results indicated the occurrence of an electrical polyspermy block, typical of anurans, but atypical of urodeles. Furthermore, Hynobius eggs fertilized by natural mating incorporated only one sperm nucleus, and experimentally polyspermic eggs underwent multipolar division. Accessory sperm did not degenerate in the egg cytoplasm, indicating lack of an intracellular polyspermy block. By comparison, fertilization of Bufo japonicus (anuran) was also voltage dependent, whereas that of Cynops pyrrhogaster (urodele) was voltage independent. Thus polyspermy prevention mechanisms in Hynobius closely resemble those of anuran amphibians and differ from those of higher urodeles.

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