T-type Ca2+ current activity during oocyte growth and maturation in the ascidian Styela plicata

PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54604. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054604. Epub 2013 Jan 22.


Voltage-dependent calcium currents play a fundamental role during oocyte maturation, mostly L-type calcium currents, whereas T-type calcium currents are involved in sperm physiology and cell growth. In this paper, using an electrophysiological and pharmacological approach, we demonstrated, for the first time in oocytes, that T-type calcium currents are present with functional consequences on the plasma membrane of growing immature oocytes of the ascidian Styela plicata. We classified three subtypes of immature oocytes at the germinal vesicle stage on the basis of their size, morphology and accessory cellular structures. These stages were clearly associated with an increased activity of T-type calcium currents and hyperpolarization of the plasma membrane. We also observed that T-type calcium currents oscillate in the post-fertilization embryonic stages, with minimal amplitude of the currents in the zygote and maximal at 8-cell stage. In addition, chemical inhibition of T-type calcium currents, obtained by applying specific antagonists, induced a significant reduction in the rate of cleavage and absence of larval formation. We suggest that calcium entry via T-type calcium channels may act as a potential pacemaker in regulating cytosolic calcium involved in fertilization and early developmental events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / metabolism*
  • Calcium* / metabolism
  • Calcium* / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Embryonic Development / physiology*
  • Fertilization / physiology
  • Oocytes / classification
  • Oocytes / growth & development*
  • Oocytes / metabolism*
  • Urochordata / metabolism
  • Urochordata / physiology


  • Calcium Channels, T-Type
  • Calcium

Grant support

Institutional funds from Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.