At the time of fertilization, sea urchin eggs release a peroxidase which, together with H2O2 generated by a respiratory burst, is responsible for hardening of the fertilization membrane. We demonstrate here that the ovoperoxidase of unfertilized eggs is located in cortical granules and, after fertilization, is concentrated in the fertilization membrane. Fertilization of sea urchin eggs or their parthenogenetic activation with the ionophor A23187 also results in (a) the conversion of iodide to a trichloroacetic acid-precipitable form (iodination), (b) the deiodination of eggs exogenously labeled with myeloperoxidase and H2O2, (c) the degradation of thyroxine as measured by the recovery of the released radioiodine at the origin and in the inorganic iodide spot on paper chromatography, and (d) the conversion of estradiol to an alcohol-precipitable form (estrogen binding). The iodination reaction and the binding of estradio occurs predominantly in the fertilization membrane where the ovoperoxidase is concentrated. From the estimation of the kinetics of incorporation of iodine, we determine that the peroxidative system is active for 30 min after fertilization, long after hardening of the fertilization membrane is complete. Most of the bound iodine is lost during the hatching process. Iodination of albumin is catalyzed by the material released from the egg during fertilization, when combined with H2O2 and iodide. Iodination, thyroxine degradation, and estradiol binding are inhibited by azide, cyanide, aminotriazole, methimazole, ascorbic acid and ergothioneine, all of which can inhibit peroxidase-catalyzed reactions. These responses of the sea urchin egg to fertilization are strikingly similar to the changes induced in polymorphonuclear leukocytes by phagocytosis and, in both instances, a peroxidative mechanism may be involved.

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