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A soluble phospholipase C (PLC) from boar sperm generates InsP(3) and hence causes Ca(2+) release when added to sea urchin egg homogenate. This PLC activity is associated with the ability of sperm extracts to cause Ca(2+) oscillations in mammalian eggs following fractionation. A sperm PLC may, therefore, be responsible for causing the observed Ca(2+) oscillations at fertilization. In the present study we have further characterized this boar sperm PLC activity using sea urchin egg homogenate. Consistent with a sperm PLC acting on egg PtdIns(4,5)P(2), the ability of sperm extracts to release Ca(2+) was blocked by preincubation with the PLC inhibitor U73122 or by the addition of neomycin to the homogenate. The Ca(2+)-releasing activity was also detectable in sperm from other species and in whole testis extracts. However, activity was not observed in extracts from other tissues. Moreover recombinant PLCbeta1, -gamma1, -gamma2, -delta1, all of which had higher specific activities than boar sperm extracts, were not able to release Ca(2+) in the sea urchin egg homogenate. In addition these PLCs were not able to cause Ca(2+) oscillations following microinjection into mouse eggs. These results imply that the sperm PLC possesses distinct properties that allow it to hydrolyse PtdIns(4,5)P(2) in eggs.


Journal article


Biochem J

Publication Date



346 Pt 3


743 - 749


Animals, Calcium, Enzyme Inhibitors, Isoenzymes, Male, Mice, Ovum, Sea Urchins, Signal Transduction, Spermatozoa, Swine, Type C Phospholipases