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An increase in intracellular Ca2+ at fertilization is the trigger for egg activation in all species that have been studied. Exactly how sperm-egg interaction leads to this Ca2+ increase has not been established. There is increasing support for the hypothesis that the spermatozoon introduces a Ca2+-releasing protein into the egg cytoplasm after gamete membrane fusion. This review discusses the merits of this 'sperm factor' hypothesis and presents evidence indicating that the sperm factor, at least in mammals, consists of a phospholipase C with distinctive properties. This evidence leads us to propose that, after gamete fusion, a sperm-derived phospholipase C causes production of inositol 1,4,5- trisphosphate, which then generates Ca2+ waves from within the egg cytoplasm.


Journal article



Publication Date





839 - 846


Animals, Biological Transport, Calcium, Female, Intracellular Fluid, Isoenzymes, Male, Mammals, Models, Biological, Ovum, Sperm-Ovum Interactions, Spermatozoa, Type C Phospholipases