In nearly every vertebrate species, elevated intracellular cAMP maintains oocytes in prophase I of meiosis. Prior to ovulation, gonadotropins trigger various intra-ovarian processes, including the breakdown of gap junctions, the activation of EGF receptors, and the secretion of steroids. These events in turn decrease intracellular cAMP levels in select oocytes to allow meiotic progression, or maturation, to resume. Studies suggest that cAMP levels are kept elevated in resting oocytes by constitutive G protein signaling, and that the drop in intracellular cAMP that accompanies maturation is due to attenuation of this inhibitory G protein-mediated signaling. Interestingly, one of these G protein regulators of meiotic arrest is the Gαs protein, which stimulates adenylyl cyclase to raise intracellular cAMP in two important animal models of oocyte development: Xenopus leavis frogs and mice. In addition to Gαs, constitutive Gβ γ activity similarly stimulates adenylyl cyclase to raise cAMP and prevent maturation in Xenopus oocytes; however, the role of Gβ γ in regulating meiosis in mouse oocytes has not been examined. Here we show that Gβγ does not contribute to the maintenance of murine oocyte meiotic arrest. In fact, contrary to observations in frog oocytes, Gβγ signaling in mouse oocytes reduces cAMP and promotes oocyte maturation, suggesting that Gβγ might in fact play a positive role in promoting oocyte maturation. These observations emphasize that, while many general concepts and components of meiotic regulation are conserved from frogs to mice, specific differences exist that may lead to important insights regarding ovarian development in vertebrates.
Keywords: steroid, oocyte, G protein, cAMP, adenylyl cyclase, ovary