Comparative biology of calcium signaling during fertilization and egg activation in animals

Dev Biol. 1999 Jul 15;211(2):157-76. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1999.9340.


During animal fertilizations, each oocyte or egg must produce a proper intracellular calcium signal for development to proceed normally. As a supplement to recent synopses of fertilization-induced calcium responses in mammals, this paper reviews the spatiotemporal properties of calcium signaling during fertilization and egg activation in marine invertebrates and compares these patterns with what has been reported for other animals. Based on the current database, fertilization causes most oocytes or eggs to generate multiple wavelike calcium oscillations that arise at least in part from the release of internal calcium stores sensitive to inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3). Such calcium waves are modulated by upstream pathways involving oolemmal receptors and/or soluble sperm factors and in turn regulate calcium-sensitive targets required for subsequent development. Both "protostome" animals (e.g., mollusks, annelids, and arthropods) and "deuterostomes" (e.g., echinoderms and chordates) display fertilization-induced calcium waves, IP3-mediated calcium signaling, and the ability to use a combination of external calcium influx and internal calcium release. Such findings fail to support the dichotomy in calcium signaling modes that had previously been proposed for protostomes vs deuterostomes and instead suggest that various features of fertilization-induced calcium signals are widely shared throughout the animal kingdom.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fertilization / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Oocytes / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Calcium