Calcium and sperm components in the establishment of the membrane block to polyspermy: Studies of ICSI and activation with sperm factor

Genevieve B. Wortzman-Show, Manabu Kurokawa, Rafael A. Fissore, Janice Perry Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


One important result of egg activation is the establishment of blocks to prevent polyspermic fertilization; these blocks are established on the zona pellucida and the egg plasma membrane. This study examines what the sperm brings to the egg to induce the establishment of the membrane block to polyspermy, building on past evidence that membrane block establishment does not occur in response to parthenogenetic stimuli that induce a single transient increase in cytosolic Ca2+ or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). We test the hypotheses that (i) sperm-associated Ca2+ release activity triggers membrane block establishment; (ii) introduction of sperm contents via variations on ICSI protocols (resulting in improved Ca2+ transients, egg activation and embryo development over traditional ICSI protocols) triggers membrane block establishment and (iii) sperm adhesion [binding of an extracellular sperm ligand(s) to an egg receptor(s)] combined with sperm-associated Ca2+ release activity triggers membrane block establishment. Interestingly, none of these stimuli induced establishment of the membrane block to polyspermy in mouse eggs. However, the sperm-associated remodeling of the egg cortical cytoskeleton differs between conventionally fertilized and ICSI-fertilized eggs; taken with our previous data implicating actin microfilaments in membrane block establishment, this raises the possibility that cortical reorganization may be a contributing factor. In sum, fertilization-like Ca2+ transients, either alone or combined with sperm - egg binding, are not sufficient for membrane block establishment, but that an event(s) associated with gamete interaction plays a role in this membrane function change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-565
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007



  • Calcium
  • Egg activation
  • Fertilization
  • ICSI
  • Polyspermy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Embryology
  • Cell Biology

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