Developmental biology

PYK2: a calcium-sensitive protein tyrosine kinase activated in response to fertilization of the zebrafish oocyte.

PMID 23084926


Fertilization begins with binding and fusion of a sperm with the oocyte, a process that triggers a high amplitude calcium transient which propagates through the oocyte and stimulates a series of preprogrammed signal transduction events critical for zygote development. Identification of the pathways downstream of this calcium transient remains an important step in understanding the basis of zygote quality. The present study demonstrates that the calcium-calmodulin sensitive protein tyrosine kinase PYK2 is a target of the fertilization-induced calcium transient in the zebrafish oocyte and that it plays an important role in actin-mediated events critical for sperm incorporation. At fertilization, PYK2 was activated initially at the site of sperm-oocyte interaction and was closely associated with actin filaments forming the fertilization cone. Later PYK2 activation was evident throughout the entire oocyte cortex, however activation was most intense over the animal hemisphere. Fertilization-induced PYK2 activation could be blocked by suppressing calcium transients in the ooplasm via injection of BAPTA as a calcium chelator. PYK2 activation could be artificially induced in unfertilized oocytes by injection of IP3 at concentrations sufficient to induce calcium release. Functionally, suppression of PYK2 activity by chemical inhibition or by injection of a dominant-negative construct encoding the N-terminal ERM domain of PKY2 inhibited formation of an organized fertilization cone and reduced the frequency of successful sperm incorporation. Together, the above findings support a model in which PYK2 responds to the fertilization-induced calcium transient by promoting reorganization of the cortical actin cytoskeleton to form the fertilization cone.

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