Low osmolality initiates sperm motility during the external fertilization of aquatic anuran amphibians. It is thought that this process occurs also in urodeles, but this has not been fully examined in these species. We report here that fertilization was achieved in the externally fertilizing hynobiid, Hynobius lichenatus, by direct insemination onto the egg jelly surface without initial exposure of the sperm to a hypoosmotic solution. To identify the factors in addition to low osmolality that initiate sperm motility in Hynobius, we suspended the sperm of this amphibian in egg jelly extract (JE), and about 90% began to move within 1 min. This indicated the presence of a substance in JE that promotes motility initiation, as is also the case in the newt, Cynops pyrrhogaster. To examine whether this JE factor is homologous to the sperm motility-initiating substance (SMIS) in the newt, we tested for possible inter-sepcies cross-reactivity of the JE. The percentage of moving Cynops sperm was increased to 67% in Hynobius JE at 5 min, and 65% of the Hynobius sperm began to move in Cynops JE within 1 min, indicating that JE is indeed cross-reactive between these species of salamander and newt. Concomitantly, pretreatment of Hynobius JE with Fab fragments of a Cynops SMIS monoclonal antibody resulted in a decreased number of moving Hynobius sperm. Immunoblotting further suggested that the substance in Hynobius JE responsible for motility initiation has an 18 kDa molecular mass, with an isoelectric point at 7.5.
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