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Development. 1995 Oct;121(10):3259-66.

Repetitive sperm-induced Ca2+ transients in mouse oocytes are cell cycle dependent.

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Medical Research Council Experimental Embryology and Teratology Unit, St. George's Hospital Medical School, London, UK.


Mature mouse oocytes are arrested at metaphase of the second meiotic division. Completion of meiosis and a block to polyspermy is caused by a series of repetitive Ca2+ transients triggered by the sperm at fertilization. These Ca2+ transients have been widely reported to last for a number of hours but when, or why, they cease is not known. Here we show that Ca2+ transients cease during entry into interphase, at the time when pronuclei are forming. In fertilized oocytes arrested at metaphase using colcemid, Ca2+ transients continued for as long as measurements were made, up to 18 hours after fertilization. Therefore sperm is able to induce Ca2+ transients during metaphase but not during interphase. In addition metaphase II oocytes, but not pronuclear stage 1-cell embryos showed highly repetitive Ca2+ oscillations in response to microinjection of inositol trisphosphate. This was explored further by treating in vitro maturing oocytes at metaphase I for 4-5 hours with cycloheximide, which induced nuclear progression to interphase (nucleus formation) and subsequent re-entry to metaphase (nuclear envelope breakdown). Fertilization of cycloheximide-treated oocytes revealed that continuous Ca2+ oscillations in response to sperm were observed after nuclear envelope breakdown but not during interphase. However interphase oocytes were able to generate Ca2+ transients in response to thimerosal. This data suggests that the ability of the sperm to trigger repetitive Ca2+ transients in oocytes is modulated in a cell cycle-dependent manner.

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