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DNase I and II present in avian oocytes: a possible involvement in sperm degradation at polyspermic fertilisation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 February 2003

Urszula Stępińska
Affiliation:
Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Polish Academy of Sciences, Jastrzębièc n/Warsaw, Poland
Bożenna Olszańska
Affiliation:
Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Polish Academy of Sciences, Jastrzębièc n/Warsaw, Poland

Abstract

During polyspermic fertilisation in birds numerous spermatozoa enter the eggs, in contrast to the situation in mammals where fertilisation is monospermic. However, in birds only one of the spermatozoa which have entered an egg participates in zygote nucleus formation, while the supernumerary spermatozoa degenerate at early embryogenesis. Our previous work has demonstrated the presence in preovulatory quail oocytes of DNase I and II activities able to digest naked λDNA/HindIII substrate in vitro. In the present studies, the activities of both DNases in quail oocytes at different stages of oogenesis and in ovulated mouse oocytes were assayed in vitro using the same substrate. Degradation of quail spermatozoa by quail oocyte extracts was also checked. Digestion of the DNA substrate was evaluated by electrophoresis on agarose gels. The activities of DNase I and II in quail oocytes increased during oogenesis and were the highest in mature oocytes. The activities were present not only in germinal discs but also in a thin layer of cytoplasm adhering to the perivitelline layer surrounding the yolk. At all stages of oogenesis the activity of DNase II was much higher than that of DNase I. DNA contained in spermatozoa was also degraded by the quail oocyte extracts under conditions optimal for both DNases. In contrast to what is observed in quail oocytes, no DNase activities were detected in ovulated mouse eggs; this is logical as they would be useless or even harmful in monospermic fertilisation. The possible role of DNase activities in avian oocytes, in degradation of accessory spermatozoa during polyspermic fertilisation, is discussed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
2003 Cambridge University Press

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DNase I and II present in avian oocytes: a possible involvement in sperm degradation at polyspermic fertilisation
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