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PLoS Biol 2020 Jul 01;187:e3000811. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000811.
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Zinc protection of fertilized eggs is an ancient feature of sexual reproduction in animals.

Wozniak KL , Bainbridge RE , Summerville DW , Tembo M , Phelps WA , Sauer ML , Wisner BW , Czekalski ME , Pasumarthy S , Hanson ML , Linderman MB , Luu CH , Boehm ME , Sanders SM , Buckley KM , Bain DJ , Nicotra ML , Lee MT , Carlson AE .

One of the earliest and most prevalent barriers to successful reproduction is polyspermy, or fertilization of an egg by multiple sperm. To prevent these supernumerary fertilizations, eggs have evolved multiple mechanisms. It has recently been proposed that zinc released by mammalian eggs at fertilization may block additional sperm from entering. Here, we demonstrate that eggs from amphibia and teleost fish also release zinc. Using Xenopus laevis as a model, we document that zinc reversibly blocks fertilization. Finally, we demonstrate that extracellular zinc similarly disrupts early embryonic development in eggs from diverse phyla, including Cnidaria, Echinodermata, and Chordata. Our study reveals that a fundamental strategy protecting human eggs from fertilization by multiple sperm may have evolved more than 650 million years ago.

PubMed ID: 32735558
PMC ID: PMC7423145
Article link: PLoS Biol
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