In unfertilized eggs of the sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) associates with the particulate elements remaining either after homogenization or extraction of eggs with non-ionic detergent in low ionic-strength media. At physiological ionic strength, the extent of G6PDH binding to these particulate elements is proportional to the total protein concentration in the extracts. In fertilized eggs this association is prevented by one or more low molecular weight solutes. The dissociation is reversible, and there are no permanent modifications of either G6PDH or its particulate binding site that affect binding. After fertilization, the time course of dissociation of G6PDH from particulate elements is too fast to be caused by a change in intracellular pH, but it could be triggered, but not maintained, by an increase in the intracellular calcium concentration. Binding of G6PDH to the particulate fraction lowers its catalytic activity at all substrate concentrations. Therefore, release of the enzyme into the cytoplasm may be an important part of the suite of events causing metabolic activation of the egg at fertilization.

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