The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 59: 261 - 270 (2015)

Vol 59, Issue 7-8-9

Special Issue: Ionic Messengers in Development and Cancer

Ion currents involved in gamete physiology

Published: 19 November 2015

Alessandra Gallo and Elisabetta Tosti*

Department of Biology and Evolution of Marine Organisms, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Naples, Italy


Gametes are electrogenic cells that modify their electrical properties in response to different stimuli. This behavior is due to the occurrence of ion currents flowing through ion channels located on the plasma membranes. The modulation of ion channels has been described during the processes of gamete maturation, activation and fertilization in most of the animal models studied. In particular, predominant ions involved in physiological events in oocyte and sperm have been recognized to be sodium, potassium and calcium. In this review, we give an overview on the occurrence, modulation and function of ion fluxes, from gametogenesis to early fertilization events, from marine animals to human. The implications for a dynamic role of ion currents in gamete physiology and their possible clinical and technological applications are discussed.


gamete, ion channel, ion current, oocyte, spermatozoa

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