Starting a new life: sperm PLC-zeta mobilizes the Ca2+ signal that induces egg activation and embryo development: an essential phospholipase C with implications for male infertility.
ABSTRACT We have discovered that a single sperm protein, phospholipase C-zeta (PLCζ), can stimulate intracellular Ca(2+) signalling in the unfertilized oocyte ('egg') culminating in the initiation of embryonic development. Upon fertilization by a spermatozoon, the earliest observed signalling event in the dormant egg is a large, transient increase in free Ca(2+) concentration. The fertilized egg responds to the intracellular Ca(2+) rise by completing meiosis. In mammalian eggs, the Ca(2+) signal is delivered as a train of long-lasting cytoplasmic Ca(2+) oscillations that begin soon after gamete fusion and persist beyond the completion of meiosis. Sperm PLCζ effects Ca(2+) release from egg intracellular stores by hydrolyzing the membrane lipid PIP(2) and consequent stimulation of the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP(3) ) receptor Ca(2+) -signalling pathway, leading to egg activation and early embryogenesis. Recent advances have refined our understanding of how PLCζ induces Ca(2+) oscillations in the egg and also suggest its potential dysfunction as a cause of male infertility.
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ABSTRACT: What are the precise patterns of calcium oscillations during the fertilization of human oocytes matured either in vivo or in vitro or aged in vitro and what is the effect of cryopreservation? Human oocytes matured in vivo exhibit a specific pattern of calcium oscillations, which is affected by in vitro maturation, in vitro ageing and cryopreservation. Oscillations in cytoplasmic calcium concentration are crucial for oocyte activation and further embryonic development. While several studies have described in detail the calcium oscillation pattern during fertilization in animal models, studies with human oocytes are scarce. This was a laboratory-based study using human MII oocytes matured in vivo or in vitro either fresh or after cryopreservation with slow freezing or vitrification. Altogether, 205 human oocytes were included in the analysis. In vivo and in vitro matured human oocytes were used for this research either fresh or following vitrification/warming (V/W) and slow freezing/thawing (F/T). Human oocytes were obtained following written informed consent from patients undergoing ovarian hyperstimulation. For the calcium pattern analysis, oocytes were loaded with the ratiometric calcium indicator fluorescent dye Fura-2. Following ICSI using sperm from a single donor, intracellular calcium was measured for 16 h at 37°C under 6% CO2. The calcium oscillation parameters were calculated for all intact oocytes that showed calcium oscillations and were analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U-test. Human in vivo MII oocytes display a specific pattern of calcium oscillations following ICSI. This pattern is significantly affected by in vitro ageing, with the calcium oscillations occurring over a longer period of time and with a lower frequency, shorter duration and higher amplitude (P < 0.05). In vitro matured oocytes from the GV and MI stage exhibit a different pattern of calcium oscillations with calcium transients being of lower frequency and shorter duration compared with in vivo matured MII. In MI oocytes that reached the MII stage within 3 h the calcium oscillations additionally appear over a longer period of time (P < 0.05). In vivo MII oocytes show a different calcium oscillation pattern following V/W with calcium oscillations occurring over a longer period of time, with a higher amplitude and a lower frequency (P < 0.05). In vitro matured oocytes, either from the GV or the MI stage, also display an altered pattern of calcium oscillations after V/W and the parameters that were similarly affected in all these oocyte groups are the frequency and the amplitude of the calcium transients. Slow freezing/thawing differentially affects the calcium oscillation pattern of in vitro matured and in vitro aged oocytes. The relationship between a specific pattern of calcium oscillations and subsequent human embryonic development could not be evaluated since the calcium indicator used and the high-intensity excitation light impair development. Furthermore, all oocytes were derived from stimulated cycles and immature oocytes were denuded prior to in vitro maturation. Our data show for the first time how calcium signalling during human fertilization is affected by oocyte in vitro maturation, in vitro ageing as well as V/W and slow freezing/thawing. The analysis of calcium oscillations could be used as an oocyte quality indicator to evaluate in vitro culture and cryopreservation techniques of human oocytes. This work was supported by a clinical research mandate from the Flemish Foundation of Scientific Research (FWO-Vlaanderen, FWO09/ASP/063) to F.V.M, a fundamental clinical research mandate from the FWO-Vlaanderen (FWO05/FKM/001) to P.D.S and a Ghent University grant (KAN-BOF E/01321/01) to B.H. The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.Human Reproduction 11/2013; · 4.67 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Metaphase-I-arrested eggs of marine protostome worms in the phylum Nemertea generate a series of point-source calcium waves during fertilization. Such calcium oscillations depend on inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate-mediated calcium release from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stores that undergo structural reorganizations prior to and after fertilization. This article reviews fertilization-induced calcium transients and ER dynamics in nemertean eggs and compares these topics to what has been reported for other animals in order to identify unifying characteristics and distinguishing features of calcium responses during fertilization across the animal kingdom.Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 04/2014; · 2.41 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: A sperm-specific PLCζ is believed to play an essential role in oocyte activation during mammalian fertilization. Sperm PLCζ has been shown to trigger a prolonged series of repetitive Ca(2+) transients or oscillations in oocytes that precede activation. This remarkable intracellular Ca(2+) signalling phenomenon is a distinctive characteristic observed during in vitro fertilization by sperm. Previous studies have notably observed an apparent differential ability of PLCζ from disparate mammalian species to trigger Ca(2+) oscillations in mouse oocytes. However, the molecular basis and confirmation of the apparent PLCζ species difference in activity remains to be provided. In the present study, we provide direct evidence for the superior effectiveness of human PLCζ relative to mouse PLCζ in generating Ca(2+) oscillations in mouse oocytes. In addition, we have designed and constructed a series of human/mouse PLCζ chimeras to enable study of the potential role of discrete PLCζ domains in conferring the enhanced Ca(2+) signalling potency of human PLCζ. Functional analysis of these human/mouse PLCζ domain chimeras suggests a novel role of the EF hands domain in the species-specific differences in PLCζ activity. Our empirical observations are compatible with a basic mathematical model for the Ca(2+)-dependence of generating cytoplasmic Ca(2+) oscillations in mammalian oocytes by sperm PLCζ.Molecular Human Reproduction 01/2014; · 4.54 Impact Factor