a1 Università dell'Aquila and Università di Roma 'La Sapienza', Italy
In amphibian eggs the formation of a capsular chamber is one of the most striking events occurring either upon oviposition or after fertilisation. In the egg of the anuran Discoglossus pictus a capsular chamber forms following fertilisation or activation; the egg with its vitelline envelope rotates in this chamber according to gravity. Previous work showed that the chamber is the product of plug dissolution. The plug is a lens-shaped jelly coat, typical of Discoglossus, covering only part of the animal hemisphere. Its dissolution is caused by material released from the egg about 15 min after fertilisation through exocytosis of at least two types of vacuoles. Liquefaction of the plug correlates with the reduction of disulphide bonds present in the jelly matrix. In this study we investigated the nature of the substances released from the egg and some changes occurring in the plug during liquefaction. SDS-PAGE showed that the proteic profile of the plug changes dramatically after fertilisation, confirming proteic cleavage in the plug matrix during its dissolution. Through in vitro tests and electrophoretic analysis of the Ringer solution in which the egg exudate was collected, an increase in the activity of the solution was determined in the presence of hydrogen peroxide, and peroxidase activity was depicted in the egg exudate. The presence of free thiol groups and cysteic acid residues (or cysteine sulphinic acid) in the plugs of activated eggs was established, suggesting that during plug dissolution some disulphide bonds are oxidatively opened. This suggests that enzyme(s) with peroxidase activity are released following fertilisation. We surmise that such enzymes are contained in the intraovular vacuoles the exocytosis of which triggers the onset of plug liquefaction. The possible release of hydrogen peroxide from the egg is discussed.
c1 C. Campanella, Dipartimento di Biologia Evolutiva e Comparata, Università di Napoli, 80134 Napoli, Italy.
1 Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biomediche e di Biometria, Università dell'Aquila, Collemaggio, 67100 L'Aquila.
2 Dipartimento di Scienze Biochimiche, Università di Roma 'La Sapienza', Rome, Italy.