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NAADP is a highly potent mobilizer of Ca(2+), which in turn triggers Ca(2+)-induced Ca(2+) release pathways in a wide range of species. Nevertheless, NAADP is not presently classified as a second messenger because it has not been shown to increase in response to a physiological stimulus. We now report a dramatic increase in NAADP during sea urchin egg fertilization that was largely due to production in sperm upon contacting egg jelly. The NAADP bolus plays a physiological role upon delivery to the egg based on its ability to induce a cortical flash, a depolarization-induced activation of L-type Ca(2+) channels. Moreover, the sperm-induced cortical flash was eliminated in eggs desensitized to NAADP. We conclude that an NAADP increase plays a physiologically relevant role during fertilization and provides the first conclusive demonstration that NAADP is a genuine second messenger.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

Publication Date





125 - 128


Animals, Calcium Channels, L-Type, Calcium Signaling, Female, In Vitro Techniques, Male, NADP, Sea Urchins, Second Messenger Systems, Sperm-Ovum Interactions, Spermatozoa