Characterization of water in unfertilized and fertilized sea urchin eggs

Philip J. Merta, Gary D. Fullerton, Ivan L. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The water in unfertilized and fertilized sea urchin eggs was characterized with a proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) titration method assuming fast proton diffusion (FPD) between water compartments. This method involves stepwise dehydration with sequential T1 relaxation time and water content determinations. The results analyzed by the FPD model give evidence of intracellular water compartments with three different correlation times: 6 × 10−12 sec (bulk water), 1 × 10−10 sec (structured water) and about 2 × 10−9 sec (bound water). Fertilization is accompanied by a substantial increase in bulk water (from 111 to 414 g H2O per 100 g dry mass) and by a decrease in the water of hydration (from 128 g to 56 g per 100 g dry mass). This study shows that 54% of the water in the unfertilized sea urchin egg has motional properties different from bulk water and that this percentage decreases dramatically shortly after fertilization. Most of the change in T1 relaxation rate observed at fertilization can be accounted for by uptake of bulk water associated with elevation of the fertilization membrane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-447
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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