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Biol Reprod. 1994 Dec;51(6):1088-98.

Regulation of intracellular calcium in the mouse egg: calcium release in response to sperm or inositol trisphosphate is enhanced after meiotic maturation.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Kent State University, Ohio 44242.


Fertilization of the immature, prophase I-arrested mouse oocyte produces multiple Ca2+ transients similar to those of the mature, metaphase II egg; however, the first Ca2+ transient is much lower in amplitude and shorter in duration. In contrast to prophase I-arrested oocytes, maturing oocytes fertilized after germinal vesicle breakdown have first Ca2+ transients similar to those of mature fertilized eggs. Immature, prophase-arrested oocytes release less Ca2+ in response to injection of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) than eggs. At high concentrations, the sulfhydryl reagent, thimerosal (200 microM), causes Ca2+ oscillations in eggs and produces similar oscillations in oocytes. A lower concentration of thimerosal (25 microM) does not cause Ca2+ oscillations, but does sensitize IP3-induced Ca2+ release in both eggs and oocytes, since IP3-induced Ca2+ release is enhanced in the presence of 25 microM thimerosal. Incubation of oocytes in 25 microM thimerosal before injection of 2.2 microM IP3 causes oocytes to release as much Ca2+ as is released in eggs injected with 2.2 microM IP3. These results indicate that immature mouse oocytes possess intracellular stores of releasable Ca2+ similar in size to Ca2+ stores in eggs; however, these stores are less sensitive to IP3. Development of the IP3-induced Ca2+ release mechanism may be an important component of maturation; at fertilization of the egg, Ca2+ must be elevated to levels sufficient to activate further development and establish a block to polyspermy. Mouse oocytes appear to develop an increased sensitivity to IP3 during the course of oocyte maturation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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