[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aging is a developmental process occurring in all living organisms after reaching a critical developmental stage, characterized by progressive loss of functions until death. Different cells/tissues age differently depending on epigenetics and cell-cell interactions. While males maintain fertility for the most part of their life females only maintain reproductive ability for a short time compared with their lifespan. The interesting question is why and how the females lose fertility so quickly. There have been many hypotheses proposed from different perspectives and recent research has revealed unusual interactions between germ cells and somatic cells which may determine the lifespan of reproduction in the females. This review briefly discusses recent progress in reproductive aging in the well studied model, C. elegans, and focuses on the molecular mechanisms which may be conserved across all animals including humans.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mature mammalian oocytes are poised for completing meiosis II (MII) on fertilization by positioning the spindle close to an actomyosin-rich cortical cap. Here, we show that the Arp2/3 complex localizes to the cortical cap in a Ran-GTPase-dependent manner and nucleates actin filaments in the cortical cap and a cytoplasmic actin network. Inhibition of Arp2/3 activity leads to rapid dissociation of the spindle from the cortex. Live-cell imaging and spatiotemporal image correlation spectroscopy analysis reveal that actin filaments flow continuously away from the Arp2/3-rich cortex, driving a cytoplasmic streaming expected to exert a net pushing force on the spindle towards the cortex. Arp2/3 inhibition not only diminishes this actin flow and cytoplasmic streaming but also enables a reverse streaming driven by myosin-II-based cortical contraction, moving the spindle away from the cortex. Thus, the asymmetric MII spindle position is dynamically maintained as a result of balanced forces governed by the Arp2/3 complex.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT:
An oocyte undergoes two rounds of asymmetric division to generate a haploid gamete and two small polar bodies designed for apoptosis. Chromosomes play important roles in specifying the asymmetric meiotic divisions in the oocytes but the underlying mechanism is poorly understood.
Chromosomes independently induce spindle formation and cortical actomyosin assembly into special cap and ring structures in the cortex of the oocyte. The spindle and the cortical cap/ring interact to generate mechanical forces, leading to polar body extrusion. Two distinct force-driven membrane changes were observed during 2nd polar body extrusion: a protrusion of the cortical cap and a membrane invagination induced by an anaphase spindle midzone. The cortical cap protrusion and invagination help rotate the spindle perpendicularly so that the spindle midzone can induce bilateral furrows at the shoulder of the protruding cap, leading to an abscission of the polar body. It is interesting to note that while the mitotic spindle midzone induces bilateral furrowing, leading to efficient symmetric division in the zygote, the meiotic spindle midzone induced cytokinetic furrowing only locally.
Distinct forces driving cortical cap protrusion and membrane invagination are involved in spindle rotation and polar body extrusion during meiosis II in mouse oocytes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Meiotic chromosomes in an oocyte are not only a maternal genome carrier but also provide a positional signal to induce cortical polarization and define asymmetric meiotic division of the oocyte, resulting in polar body extrusion and haploidization of the maternal genome. The meiotic chromosomes play dual function in determination of meiosis: 1) organizing a bipolar spindle formation and 2) inducing cortical polarization and assembly of a distinct cortical cytoskeleton structure in the overlying cortex for polar body extrusion. At fertilization, a sperm brings exogenous paternal chromatin into the egg, which induces ectopic cortical polarization at the sperm entry site and leads to a cone formation, known as fertilization cone. Here we show that the sperm chromatin-induced fertilization cone formation is an abortive polar body extrusion due to lack of spindle induction by the sperm chromatin during fertilization. If experimentally manipulating the fertilization process to allow sperm chromatin to induce both cortical polarization and spindle formation, the fertilization cone can be converted into polar body extrusion. This suggests that sperm chromatin is also able to induce polar body extrusion, like its maternal counterpart. The usually observed cone formation instead of ectopic polar body extrusion induced by sperm chromatin during fertilization is due to special sperm chromatin compaction which restrains it from rapid spindle induction and therefore provides a protective mechanism to prevent a possible paternal genome loss during ectopic polar body extrusion.
PLoS ONE 09/2009; 4(9):e7171. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0007171 · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Kinetochores are considered to be the key structures that physically connect spindle microtubules to the chromosomes and play an important role in chromosome segregation during mitosis. Due to different mechanisms of spindle assembly between centrosome-containing mitotic cells and acentrosomal meiotic oocytes, it is unclear how a meiotic spindle generates the poleward forces to drive two rounds of meiotic chromosome segregation to achieve genome haploidization. We took advantage of the fact that DNA beads are able to induce bipolar spindle formation without kinetochores and studied the behavior of DNA beads in the induced spindle in mouse eggs during meiosis II. Interestingly, DNA beads underwent poleward movements that were similar in timing and speed to the meiotic chromosomes, although all the beads moved together to the same spindle pole. Disruption of dynein function abolished the poleward movements of DNA beads but not of the meiotic chromosomes, suggesting the existence of different dynein-dependent and dynein-independent force generation mechanisms for the chromosome poleward movement, and the latter may be dependent on the presence of kinetochores. Consistent with the observed DNA bead poleward movement, sperm haploid chromatin (which also induced bipolar spindle formation after injection to a metaphase egg without forming detectable kinetochore structures) also underwent similar poleward movement at anaphase as DNA beads. The results suggest that in the chromatin-induced meiotic spindles, kinetochore attachments to spindle microtubules are not absolutely required for chromatin poleward movements at anaphase.
PLoS ONE 02/2009; 4(4):e5249. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0005249 · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The molecular basis for asymmetric meiotic divisions in mammalian oocytes that give rise to mature eggs and polar bodies remains poorly understood. Previous studies demonstrated that the asymmetrically positioned meiotic chromosomes provide the cue for cortical polarity in mouse oocytes. Here we show that the chromatin-induced cortical response can be fully reconstituted by injecting DNA-coated beads into metaphase II-arrested eggs. The injected DNA beads induce a cortical actin cap, surrounded by a myosin II ring, in a manner that depends on the number of beads and their distance from the cortex. The Ran GTPase plays a critical role in this process, because dominant-negative and constitutively active Ran mutants disrupt DNA-induced cortical polarization. The Ran-mediated signaling to the cortex is independent of the spindle but requires cortical myosin II assembly. We hypothesize that a Ran(GTP) gradient serves as a molecular ruler to interpret the asymmetric position of the meiotic chromatin.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During maturation, the mouse oocyte is transformed into a highly polarized egg, characterized by an actin cap and cortical granule-free domain (CGFD) overlying the meiotic spindle that is in close proximity to the cortex. The presence of spindle/chromosomes or microinjected sperm chromatin in the cortical region initiates this cortical reorganization, but the pathway is unknown. We report that cortical reorganization induced by microinjected sperm chromatin is blocked by inhibitors of microfilament assembly or disassembly. Active mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), which becomes enriched in the region of sperm chromatin, is required for cortical reorganization, because microinjected sperm chromatin fails to induce cortical reorganization in Mos-/- eggs, which lack MAPK activity. Last, myosin light chain kinase (MLCK), which can be directly phosphorylated and activated by MAPK, appears involved, because the MLCK inhibitors ML-7 and Peptide 18 prevent sperm chromatin-induced cortical reorganization. These results provide new insights into how cortical reorganization occurs independently of extracellular signals to generate egg polarity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MSY2 is implicated in regulating the stability and translation of maternal mRNAs during mouse oogenesis. We report here that by driving the expression of a transgene encoding an Msy2 hairpin dsRNA in growing oocytes using the oocyte-specific Zp3 promoter, the amount of MSY2 protein was reduced by at least 60% in fully grown oocytes. The decrease appeared specific because no decrease was observed in either non-targeted mRNAs or proteins. Fertility of transgenic females was severely reduced. Although transgenic eggs could be inseminated, the eggs did not exhibit the normal series of oscillations in intracellular Ca2+, resume meiosis, undergo cortical granule exocytosis, or ZP2 cleavage to ZP2f. Transgenic oocytes also displayed a higher incidence of both the non-surrounded nucleolus chromatin morphology, and abnormal meiotic spindle formation was observed following oocyte maturation. Transgenic oocytes contained less total mRNA (approximately 75-80% that of non-transgenic oocytes) and displayed a reduced level of protein synthesis. Moreover, several of the maturation-associated changes in protein synthesis failed to occur in the transgenic oocytes. These results support a role for MSY2 in stabilizing maternal mRNAs in growing oocytes, a process essential to generate meiotically and developmentally competent oocytes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A cortical granule-free domain (CGFD) overlies the metaphase chromatin in fully mature mouse eggs. Although a chromatin-induced localized release of cortical granules (CG) during maturation is thought to be a major contributing factor to its formation, there are indications that CG redistribution may also be involved in generating the CGFD. We performed experiments to determine the relative contributions of CG exocytosis and redistribution in generating the CGFD. We found that the CGFD-inducing activity was not specific to female germ cell chromatin and was heat stable but sensitive to DNase and protease treatment. Surprisingly, chelation of egg intracellular Ca(2+) levels did not prevent CGFD formation in response to microinjection of exogenous chromatin, suggesting that development of the CGFD was not a result of CG exocytosis. This finding was confirmed by the lack of CG exudate on the plasma membrane surface of the injected eggs and the absence of conversion of ZP2 to ZP2(f) during formation of the new CGFD. Moreover, clamping intracellular Ca(2+) did not prevent the formation of the CGFD during oocyte maturation, but did inhibit the maturation-associated release of CGs between metaphase I and II. Results of these experiments suggest that CG redistribution is the dominant factor in formation of the CGFD.