(HealthDay News) – Injecting eggs with a recombinant human phospholipase Cζ (PLCζ), a protein linked to male infertility, can activate calcium ion oscillations, which are necessary for oocyte activation and successful embryo development, according to a study published online Sept 24 in Fertility and Sterility.

Noting that mutations in PLCζ have been linked to male infertility, Michail Nomikos, PhD, from the Cardiff University School of Medicine in the United Kingdom, and colleagues injected oocytes with recombinant wild-type or mutant human PLCζ.

The researchers found that mutant PLCζ showed defective enzyme activity and an inability to activate unfertilized oocytes. Subsequent microinjection of recombinant PLCζ initiated characteristic calcium ion oscillations at fertilization, which are necessary for activation of oocytes and development to the blastocyst stage.

“We’ve established that this one sperm protein, PLCζ, is absolutely critical at the point where life begins,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Whilst this was a lab experiment and our method could not be used in a fertility clinic in exactly the same way — there is potential to translate this advance into humans. In the future, we could produce the human PLCζ protein and use it to stimulate egg activation in a completely natural way.”

Two authors hold a patent for PLCζ.

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