Nuclei from fertilized mouse embryos have calcium-releasing activity

T. Kono, J. Carroll, K. Swann, D. G. Whittingham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


During mammalian fertilization, the sperm triggers a series of intracellular Ca2+ oscillations which initiate oocyte activation and the formation of pronuclei. Oocyte activation can be induced artificially by a variety of chemical and physical stimuli which elevate intracellular calcium. We show that the transfer of nuclei from 1- and 2-cell-stage fertilized mouse embryos to unfertilized oocytes stimulates the completion of meiosis and the formation of pronuclei. Nuclei from embryos that had developed to the 4-cell stage did not stimulate meiotic resumption. The ability to cause oocyte activation was specific to nuclei transferred from fertilized embryos as nuclei from parthenogenetic embryos or cytoplasts from fertilized or parthenogenetic embryos did not induce activation. Nucleus-induced oocyte activation was associated with the generation of intracellular Ca2+ transients, which were seen after nuclear envelope breakdown of the transferred nuclei. Treatment of the oocyte with the intracellular Ca2+ chelator, BAPTA, prior to nuclear transfer inhibited intracellular Ca2+ transients and oocyte activation. The specific Ca2+-releasing activity of the nucleus was not caused by sperm-induced protein synthesis since similar activity was present in nuclei originating from embryos exposed to cycloheximide throughout fertilization. The specific ability of nuclei from fertilized embryos to stimulate Ca2+ transients and oocyte activation was also found in nuclei from embryos parthenogenetically activated by the injection of a partially purified cytosolic sperm factor. The results suggest that the fertilizing sperm introduces Ca2+-releasing activity which becomes associated with the nucleus of early mammalian embryos.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1128
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Activation
  • Calcium
  • Fertilization
  • Mouse
  • Nucleus
  • Oocyte
  • Sperm

Cite this