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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Copper ions and hydrogen peroxide form hypochlorite from NaCl thereby mimicking myeloperoxidase.

Sea urchins have elaborated multiple defenses to assure monospermic fertilization. In this work, we have concentrated on a study of the mechanism(s) by which hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) prevents polyspermy in Arbacia punctulata. We found that it is not H2O2 but probably hypochlorous acid/hypochlorite (HOCl/OCl-) derived from H2O2 that is toxic to the supernumerary sperm. The spermicidal activity of H2O2 is potentiated by at least one order of magnitude by cupric ions (Cu2+). This increased toxicity is not due to the formation of hydroxyl radicals (.OH) because .OH scavengers did not counteract the activity of Cu2+. Moreover, substitution of Cu2+ by ferrous ions (Fe2+), which are known to cause formation of .OH from H2O2, had no effect on fertilization even at 10(2)-10(3) times higher concentrations. In contrast, 3-amino-1,2,4-triazole (AT), and HOCl/OCl- scavenger, totally reversed the toxic effects of Cu2+. Furthermore, we found that HOCl/OCl- is generated in solutions of H2O2 and Cu2+ in the presence of 0.5 M NaCl and that its accumulation is abolished by AT. Thus it is possible that the antifertility properties of copper are due to its ability to mediate formation of HOCl/OCl-. HOCl/OCl- generated by Cu2+ from H2O2 and Cl-, a low concentration of exogenously added HOCl/OCl-, or increased concentrations of H2O2 has similar inhibitory effects on the fertilization process in sea urchins. Therefore, we suggest that polyspermy is prevented by the action of a myeloperoxidase that affects the formation of HOCl/OCl- from the Cl- present in sea water through reaction with H2O2 generated by the newly fertilized egg.[1]


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