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Established studies in a variety of organisms including amphibians, fish, ascidians, nemerteans, echinoderms, mammals, and even a species of flowering plant, clearly demonstrate that an increase in intracellular egg calcium is crucial to the process of egg activation at fertilization. In echinoderms, egg activation appears to involve an egg phospholipase C gamma (PLCgamma). However, numerous studies in mammalian species suggest that calcium is released from internal egg stores at fertilization by a sperm-derived cytosolic protein factor. Recent studies in the mouse have identified this sperm-derived factor as being a novel sperm-specific PLC isoform with distinctive properties (PLCzeta). Homologues of PLCzeta have since been isolated from human and cynomolgus monkey sperm. In addition, sperm factor activity has been detected in non-mammalian species such as chicken, Xenopus, and a flowering plant. Here we report evidence for the existence of a similar sperm-derived factor in a commercially important species of teleost fish, the Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus (L). Using an established bioassay for calcium release, the sea urchin egg homogenate, we demonstrate that protein extracts obtained from tilapia spermatozoa exhibit PLC activity similar to that seen in mammalian sperm extracts, and also induce calcium release when added directly to the homogenate. Further, tilapia sperm extracts induced calcium oscillations when injected into mouse oocytes.


Journal article


Biochem Biophys Res Commun

Publication Date





299 - 304


Animals, Biological Assay, Calcium, Calcium Signaling, Cell Extracts, Cytosol, Injections, Kinetics, Male, Mice, Oocytes, Ovum, Proteins, Sea Urchins, Spermatozoa, Tilapia, Type C Phospholipases