Universality and Diversity of a Fast, Electrical Block to Polyspermy During Fertilization in Animals

  • Yasuhiro IwaoEmail author
  • Kenta Izaki
Part of the Diversity and Commonality in Animals book series (DCA)


In the sexual reproduction of animals, fertilization is indispensable for the initiation of diploid embryonic development. Most animals exhibit monospermy, in which only one sperm enters an egg during normal fertilization. In monospermic species, a fast, electrical block on the egg membrane is one of the most important blocks to polyspermy. A fertilizing primary sperm usually causes a positive-going fertilization potential to prevent the subsequent entry of excess sperm. An increase in intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) in the egg cytoplasm induced by the fertilizing sperm is necessary for egg activation and blocks polyspermy. The mechanism of voltage-dependent fertilization in monospermic amphibians is presented as a model system of vertebrate fertilization. The electrical polyspermy blocks in various animals are reviewed and their universality and diversity across the animal kingdom are discussed. Relationships between the fast, electrical block and [Ca2+]i increases in egg cytoplasm are discussed, as well as their changes throughout the course of animal evolution.


Fertilization potential Fast polyspermy block [Ca2+]i increase Egg activation Sperm-egg fusion 



This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers, 22112518, 24112712, 26650083 to Y.I. and by The YU “Pump-Priming Program” for Fostering Research Activities.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Reproductive Developmental Biology, Division of Earth Sciences, Biology, and ChemistryGraduate School of Sciences and Technology for Innovation, Yamaguchi UniversityYamaguchiJapan

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