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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Evidence that phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase is involved in sperm-induced tyrosine kinase signaling in Xenopus egg fertilization

Gunay Mammadova12, Tetsushi Iwasaki3, Alexander A Tokmakov13, Yasuo Fukami13 and Ken-ichi Sato2*

Author Affiliations

1 The Graduate School of Science, Kobe University, 1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-8501, Japan

2 Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Engineering, Kyoto Sangyo University, Kamigamo-Motoyama, Kita-ku, Kyoto 603-8555, Japan

3 Research Center for Environmental Genomics, Kobe University, 1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-8501, Japan

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BMC Developmental Biology 2009, 9:68  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-9-68

Published: 17 December 2009



Studies have examined the function of PI 3-kinase in the early developmental processes that operate in oocytes or early embryos of various species. However, the roles of egg-associated PI 3-kinase and Akt, especially in signal transduction at fertilization, are not well understood.


Here we show that in Xenopus eggs, a potent inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase), LY294002 inhibits sperm-induced activation of the tyrosine kinase Src and a transient increase in the intracellular concentration of Ca2+ at fertilization. LY294002 also inhibits sperm-induced dephosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase, breakdown of cyclin B2 and Mos, and first embryonic cleavage, all of which are events of Ca2+-dependent egg activation. In fertilized eggs, an 85-kDa subunit of PI 3-kinase (p85) undergoes a transient translocation to the low-density, detergent-insoluble membranes (membrane microdomains) where Src tyrosine kinase signaling is operating. However, the tyrosine phosphorylation of p85 in fertilized eggs is not as evident as that in H2O2-activated eggs, arguing against the possibility that PI 3-kinase is activated by Src phosphorylation. Nevertheless, sperm-induced activation of PI 3-kinase has been demonstrated by the finding that Akt, a serine/threonine-specific protein kinase, is phosphorylated at threonine-308. The threonine-phosphorylated Akt also localizes to the membrane microdomains of fertilized eggs. Application of bp(V), an inhibitor of PTEN that dephosphorylates PIP3, the enzymatic product of PI 3-kinase, promotes parthenogenetic activation of Xenopus eggs. In vitro kinase assays demonstrate that PIP3 activates Src in a dose-dependent manner.


These results suggest that PI 3-kinase is involved in sperm-induced egg activation via production of PIP3 that would act as a positive regulator of the Src signaling pathway in Xenopus fertilization.