During spawning, eggs of most fish species entering the aquatic environment remain fertilizable for a relatively short period of time. This is due to the “spontaneous egg activation” giving rise to the fertilization membrane, which prevents the penetration of excessive and foreign sperm into the egg during normal fertilization. This work demonstrates that the fertilization membrane formation and the loss of fertilizability in aqueous solutions of different composition are inhibited by protease inhibitors, in particular, leupeptin and aprotinin. The presence of natural protease inhibitors in the ovarian fluid that prevent spontaneous egg activation is proposed. The decrease in the concentration of these inhibitors as the ovarian fluid is diluted in aquatic medium during spawning can explain egg activation in the absence of sperm.
Russian Journal of Developmental Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 30, 2008
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