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From the Chemistry Department

Que Research Reveals Origin of Fertilization-Induced Zinc Sparks

Dr. Emily Que published an article in Nature Chemistry titled "Quantitative mapping of zinc fluxes in the mammalian egg reveals the origin of fertilization-induced zinc sparks." This work comes from her post-doctoral research at Northwestern University in the laboratories of Drs. Thomas O’Halloran and Teresa Woodruff.


The amount of zinc present during different stages of fertilization plays an important role in the egg-to-embryo transition. The group is the first to capture images of "zinc sparks:” stockpiles of billions of zinc atoms that are needed by the egg prior to fertilization but must be released for proper embryo development.


Source: Northwestern University



The imaging of the sparks is impressive to see and, in the future, may be used to determine egg quality clinically during in vitro fertilization procedures.


Since its publication on 12/15/2014, this work has ‘sparked’ the interest of the general public, with features published in numerous news outlets including C&EN News, the Huffington Post, and Slate.


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