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Cell. 1978 Oct;15(2):343-55.

Hardening of the sea urchin fertilization envelope by peroxidase-catalyzed phenolic coupling of tyrosines.


Within minutes after its elevation from the egg surface, the sea urchin fertilization envelope (FE) becomes "hardened" by a reaction that renders it resistant to agents that solubilize, denature or degrade most proteins. Peroxidase activity is released into the surrounding seawater from Stronglyocentrotus purpuratus eggs during fertilization. Evidence from several sources indicate that the catalytic action of the peroxidase is responsible for hardening the FE through the phenolic coupling of tyrosyl residues of the FE proteins. First, the peroxidase is localized within the hardened FE and within the crystalline FE precursor material released from egg cortical granules during the fertilization reaction. Second, a direct correlation is established between the effectiveness of compounds in inhibiting the cortical granule peroxidase (CGP) and their effectiveness in inhibiting hardening of the FE. Third, the CGP catalyzes the cross-linking of tyrosines in solution, a reaction known to be catalyzed by horseradish peroxidase (HRP). Fourth, acid hydrolysates of hardened FEs contain cross-linked tyrosines that are identified by comparing their chromatographic ultraviolet absorption and fluorescent characteristics to those known for cross-linked tyrosines formed by HRP. Finally, when eggs are fertilized in the presence of 125I, the CGP heavily labels proteins of the FE and of the crystalline FE precursor material released with the enzyme from the cortical granules. The iodide label reflects the localization of the CGP and may reflect the sites of peroxidase-generated tyrosyl phenyl radicals involved in the tyrosine coupling reaction. Maximal iodide labeling occurs during the first 5 min period following fertilization, corresponding to the period of FE hardening.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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