Voltage sensitive phosphoinositide phosphatases of Xenopus: their tissue distribution and voltage dependence

Journal of Cellular Physiology
William J RatzanLaurinda A Jaffe


Voltage-sensitive phosphatases (VSPs) are unique proteins in which membrane potential controls enzyme activity. They are comprised of the voltage sensor domain of an ion channel coupled to a lipid phosphatase specific for phosphoinositides, and for ascidian and zebrafish VSPs, the phosphatase activity has been found to be activated by membrane depolarization. The physiological functions of these proteins are unknown, but their expression in testis and embryos suggests a role in fertilization or development. Here we investigate the expression pattern and voltage dependence of VSPs in two frog species, Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis, that are well suited for experimental studies of these possible functions. X. laevis has two VSP genes (Xl-VSP1 and Xl-VSP2), whereas X. tropicalis has only one gene (Xt-VSP). The highest expression of these genes was observed in testis, ovary, liver, and kidney. Our results show that while Xl-VSP2 activates only at positive membrane potentials outside of the physiological range, Xl-VSP1 and Xt-VSP phosphatase activity is regulated in the voltage range that regulates sperm-egg fusion at fertilization.


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