Aurora kinase A (AURKA) is an important mitotic kinase involved in the G2/M transition, centrosome maturation and separation, and spindle formation in somatic cells. We used transgenic models that specifically overexpress in mouse oocytes either wild-type (WT-AURKA) or a catalytically inactive (kinase-dead) (KD-AURKA) AURKA to gain new insights regarding the role of AURKA during oocyte maturation. AURKA activation occurs shortly after hCG administration that initiates maturation in vivo. Although AURKA activity is increased in WT-AURKA oocytes, resumption of meiosis is not observed in the absence of hCG administration. Control oocytes contain one to three microtubule organizing centers (MTOCs; centrosome equivalent) at prophase I. At the time of germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD), the first visible marker of resumption of meiosis, the MTOC number increases. In WT-AURKA oocytes, the increase in MTOC number occurs prematurely but transiently without GVBD, whereas the increase in MTOC number does not occur in control and KD-AURKA oocytes. AURKA activation is biphasic with the initial activation not requiring CDC25B-CDK1 activity, whereas full activation, which is essential for the increase in MTOCs number, depends on CDK1 activity. AURKA activity also influences spindle length and regulates, independent of its protein kinase activity, the amount of MTOC associated with gamma-tubulin. Both WT-AURKA and KD-AURKA transgenic mice have normal fertility during first 6 mo of life. These results suggest that although AURKA is not a trigger kinase for G2/M transition in mouse oocytes, it regulates MTOC number and spindle length, and, independent of its protein kinase activity, gamma-tubulin recruitment to MTOCs.
Aurora-A protein kinase, activated very early in microtubule organizing centers in mouse oocytes, regulates multiple aspects of their biogenesis and spindle formation but does not trigger resumption of meiosis in vivo.
AURKA; CDC25B; centrosome; γ-tubulin; mouse oocytes; MTOC; resumption of meiosis; spindle formation
segregation errors in female meiosis lead to aneuploidy in the resulting egg and embryo, making them one of the leading genetic causes of spontaneous abortions and developmental disabilities in humans. It is known that aneuploidy of meiotic origin increases dramatically as women age, and current evidence suggests that most errors occur in meiosis I. Several hypotheses regarding the cause of maternal age-related aneuploidy have been proposed, including recombination errors in early meiosis, a defective spindle assembly checkpoint in meiosis I, and deterioration of sister chromatid cohesion with age. This review discusses findings in each area, and focuses especially on recent studies suggesting that deterioration of cohesion with increasing maternal age is a leading cause of age-related aneuploidy.
This review discusses maternal age-related aneuploidy and focuses especially on recent studies suggesting that deterioration of cohesion is a leading cause.
aging; aneuploidy; female infertility; meiosis; oocyte
hypothesis to explain the maternal age-dependent increase in formation of aneuploid eggs is deterioration of chromosome cohesion. Although several lines of evidence are consistent with this hypothesis, whether cohesion is actually reduced in naturally aged oocytes has not been directly tested by any experimental perturbation. To directly target cohesion, we increased the activity of separase, the protease that cleaves the meiotic cohesin REC8, in oocytes.
We show that cohesion is more susceptible to premature separase activation in old oocytes than in young oocytes, demonstrating that cohesion is significantly reduced. Furthermore, cohesion is protected by two independent mechanisms that inhibit separase, securin and an inhibitory phosphorylation of separase by CDK1; both mechanisms must be disrupted to prematurely activate separase.
With the continual loss of cohesins from chromosomes that occurs throughout the natural reproductive lifespan, tight regulation of separase in oocytes may be particularly important to maintain cohesion and prevent aneuploidy.
Age increases susceptibility of chromosome cohesion to premature separase activation, and cohesion is protected independently by securin and an inhibitory phosphorylation of separase.
aging; aneuploidy; meiosis; oocyte; separase
Messenger RNA is remarkably stable during oocyte growth, thus enabling mRNAs to accumulate during the growth phase and thereby provide mRNAs that support early embryonic development. MSY2, a germ cell-specific RNA-binding protein, is implicated in regulating mRNA stability. MSY2 is essential for development because female Msy2−/− mice are infertile. We describe here the characterization of Msy2−/− oocytes. Mutant oocytes grow more slowly during the first wave of folliculogenesis, and maturation to and arrest at metaphase II is severely compromised because of aberrant spindle formation and chromosome congression. Consistent with MSY2 conferring mRNA stability is that the amount of poly(A)-containing RNA is reduced by ∼25% in mutant oocytes. Stability of an exogenous mRNA injected into mutant oocytes is lower than when compared to their wild-type counterparts, and moreover, expression of wild-type MSY2 in mutant oocytes increases mRNA stability, whereas injection of a mutant form of MSY2 not capable of binding RNA does not. Transcription quiescence that normally occurs during the course of oocyte growth is not observed in mutant oocytes, and the transcriptome of mutant oocytes is markedly perturbed. These results, and those of previous studies, strongly implicate a central role of MSY2 in regulating mRNA stability.
Msy2−/− oocytes exhibit numerous phenotypes including defects in oocyte growth and maturation, RNA stability, and gene expression.
gene expression; histone modifications; meiotic maturation; mRNA stability; oocyte development
Culture systems that support development and maturation of oocytes in vitro with a high efficiency would have great impact not only on research addressed at underlying mechanisms of oocyte development but also on preservation of fertility. Recently, attention has turned to using culture systems that preserve follicle integrity, in contrast to existing systems that do not maintain follicle integrity, with the hope of improving oocyte development. We report that an alginate-based follicle culture system supports both follicular and oocyte growth in vitro, with little effect on the oocyte transcriptome. Nevertheless, oocytes obtained from these follicles exhibit an increased incidence of defects in spindle formation and chromosome alignment as well as pronounced abnormalities in cortical granule biogenesis. Developmental competence is also highly compromised, because few matured oocytes develop into 1-cell embryos with pronuclei. This situation contrasts with a high incidence of pronuclear formation following development using an existing in vitro culture system that does not preserve follicle integrity.
Although an alginate-based system that preserves follicle integrity supports oocyte development in vitro, developmental competence of the oocytes is compromised.
assisted reproductive technology; gamete biology; gene expression; meiotic maturation; oocyte development
Sox2 is a key gene that controls transcriptional networks required for pluripotency. The role of Sox2 in the developmental transition of a highly differentiated oocyte to totipotent blastomeres of the early preimplantation embryo, however, is not known. We report that Sox2, which is localized in the nucleus, is first zygotically expressed during the 2-cell stage and that its expression dramatically increases between the morula and blastocyst stages. Injecting a cRNA encoding Sox2 into 1-cell embryos resulted in overexpression of SOX2 by approximately 70% and developmental arrest at the 2-cell stage, whereas injecting cRNAs encoding Pou5f1, Myc (also known as c-Myc), or Klf4 has little effect on the ability of 2-cell embryos to cleave to the 4-cell stage. Global transcription assessed by bromo uridine triphosphate incorporation is reduced by approximately 15%, and transcript profiling revealed that approximately 15% of zygotically expressed genes are dramatically repressed in 2-cell embryos overexpressing SOX2. Furthermore, overexpressing a dominant-negative SOX2 perturbs reprogramming of gene expression in 2-cell embryos, though to a much lesser extent than that observed following overexpression of SOX2, and leads to developmental failure after the 2-cell stage but before the 8-cell stage. Results of these experiments implicate Sox2 as a critical transcriptional regulator in the oocyte-to-embryo transition that entails formation of totipotent blastomeres and indicate that the amount of Sox2 is critical for successful execution of this transition.
Overexpression of SOX2 or a dominant-negative form inhibits embryo development beyond the 2-cell stage by perturbing the reprogramming of gene expression during genome activation that is necessary for continued development.
chromatin; early development; embryo; gene expression; transcriptional regulation
Ribosomal DNA (rDNA) is not composed of multiple copies of identical transcription units, as commonly believed, but rather of at least seven rDNA variant subtypes that are expressed in somatic cells. This finding raises the possibility that ribosome function may be modulated as proposed by the ribosome filter hypothesis. We report here that mouse oocytes and preimplantation embryos express all the rDNA variants except variant V and that there is no marked developmental change in the qualitative pattern of variant expression. The maternal and embryonic ribosome pools are therefore quite similar, minimizing the likelihood that developmental changes in composition of the ribosome population are critical for preimplantation development.
Mouse oocytes and preimplantation embryos express different rRNA genes, but there is no dramatic change in the variants that are expressed during preimplantation development.
early development; embryo; gametogenesis; oocyte development; rDNA
The epigenetic mechanisms involved in establishing and maintaining genomic imprinting are steadily being unmasked. The nucleosome remodeling and histone deacetylation (NuRD) complex is implicated in regulating DNA methylation and expression of the maternally expressed H19 gene in preimplantation mouse embryos. To dissect further the function of the NuRD complex in genomic imprinting, we employed an RNA interference (RNAi) strategy to deplete the NuRD complex component Metastasis Tumor Antigen 2 (MTA2). We found that Mta2 is the only zygotically expressed Mta gene prior to the blastocyst stage, and that RNAi-mediated knockdown of Mta2 transcript leads to biallelic H19 expression and loss of DNA methylation in the differentially methylated region in blastocysts. In addition, biallelic expression of the paternally expressed Peg3 gene, but not Snrpn, is also observed in blastocysts following Mta2 knockdown. Loss of MTA2 protein does not result in a decrease in abundance of other NuRD components, including methyl-binding-CpG-binding domain protein 3 (MBD3), histone deacetylases 1 and 2 (HDACs 1 and 2), and chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein 4 (CHD4). Taken together, our results support a role for MTA2 within the NuRD complex in genomic imprinting.
The metastasis tumor antigen 2 (MTA2) protein, a component of the NuRD chromatin remodeling complex, is involved in genomic imprinting during mouse preimplantation development.
DNA methylation; embryo; genomic imprinting; H19; MTA; NuRD complex; Peg3; RNAi
In mammalian somatic cells, several pathways that converge on deadenylation, decapping, and 5'-3' degradation are found in cytoplasmic foci known as P-bodies. Because controlled mRNA stability is essential for oocyte-to-zygote transition, we examined the dynamics of P-body components in mouse oocytes. We report that oocyte growth is accompanied by loss of P-bodies and a subcortical accumulation of several RNA-binding proteins, including DDX6, CPEB, YBX2 (MSY2), and the exon junction complex. These proteins form transient RNA-containing aggregates in fully grown oocytes with a surrounded nucleolus chromatin configuration. These aggregates disperse during oocyte maturation, consistent with recruitment of maternal mRNAs that occurs during this time. In contrast, levels of DCP1A are low during oocyte growth, and DCP1A does not colocalize with DDX6 in the subcortical aggregates. The amount of DCP1A markedly increases during meiosis, which correlates with the first wave of destabilization of maternal mRNAs. We propose that the cortex of growing oocytes serves as an mRNA storage compartment, which contains a novel type of RNA granule related to P-bodies.
Oocyte growth is accompanied by loss of P-bodies and subcortical accumulation of RNA-binding proteins DDX6, CPEB, YBX2, the exon junction complex, and others, which form transient aggregates storing maternal mRNAs.
DDX6; gene regulation; maternal mRNA; miRNA; oocyte; oocyte development; P-body; RNA granule; YBX2
Advanced maternal age is unequivocally associated with increased aneuploidy in human eggs and infertility, but the molecular basis for this phenomenon is unknown. An age-dependent deterioration of the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) has been proposed as a probable cause of aneuploidy. Accurate chromosome segregation depends on correct chromosome attachment to spindle microtubules, and the SAC provides time for this process by delaying anaphase onset until all chromosomes are stably attached. If SAC function decreases with age, oocytes from reproductively old mice would enter anaphase of meiosis I (AI) prematurely, leading to chromosome segregation errors and aneuploid eggs. Although intuitively appealing, this hypothesis is largely untested. We used a natural reproductive aging mouse model to determine if a defective SAC is the primary cause of aneuploidy in eggs. We tracked the progress of individual oocytes from young and old mice through meiosis I by time-lapse microscopy and counted chromosomes in the resulting eggs. This data set allowed us to correlate the timing of AI onset with aneuploidy in individual oocytes. We found that oocytes from old mice do not enter AI prematurely compared to young counterparts despite a 4-fold increase in the incidence of aneuploidy. Moreover, we did not observe a correlation between the timing of AI onset and aneuploidy in individual oocytes. When SAC function was challenged with a low concentration of the spindle toxin nocodazole, oocytes from both young and old mice arrested at meiosis I, which is indicative of a functional checkpoint. These findings indicate that a defective SAC is unlikely the primary cause of aneuploidy associated with maternal age.
Real-time imaging of oocytes maturing in vitro demonstrates evidence that a defective spindle assembly checkpoint is not the primary cause of maternal age-associated aneuploidy in mouse eggs.
aging; aneuploidy; meiosis; mouse oocyte; oocyte development; spindle checkpoint
Meiotic maturation in oocytes is a prolonged process that is unique because of cell cycle arrests at prophase of meiosis I (MI) and at metaphase of meiosis II (MII). Fluctuations in cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1/CDC2A) activity govern meiotic progression, yet little is known about how these fluctuations are achieved. CDC14 is a highly conserved dual-specificity phosphatase that counteracts the function of proteins phosphorylated by CDK. Mammals contain two CDC14 homologs, CDC14A and CDC14B. We report that CDC14B localizes with the meiotic spindle in mouse oocytes, and (unlike somatic cells) it does not localize in the nucleolus. Oocytes that overexpress CDC14B are significantly delayed in resuming meiosis and fail to progress to MII, whereas oocytes depleted of CDC14B spontaneously resume meiosis under conditions that normally inhibit meiotic resumption. Depletion of FZR1 (CDH1), a regulatory subunit of the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome that targets cyclin B1 (CCNB1) for ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis, partially restores normal timing of meiotic resumption in oocytes with excess CDC14B. These studies also reveal that experimentally altering CDC14B levels generates eggs with abnormal spindles and with chromosome alignment perturbations. Our data indicate that CDC14B is a negative regulator of meiotic resumption and may regulate MI in mouse oocytes.
CDC14B, a conserved dual-specificity phosphatase, functions through the CDH1 regulatory subunit of the anaphase-promoting complex to prevent meiotic maturation of mouse oocytes.
CDC14; CDH1; cell cycle; gamete biology; meiosis; oocyte; phosphatases
Sumoylation is a posttranslational modification in which SUMO (small ubiquitin-related modifier) proteins are covalently attached to their substrates. In vertebrates, developmental roles for sumoylation have been studied, but the function of sumoylation during mammalian oocyte growth and maturation is not known. As a prelude to conducting studies on the role of sumoylation during oocyte development, we analyzed the temporal and spatial pattern of expression of UBE2I, a SUMO-conjugating E2 enzyme. Immunocytochemical analysis of UBE2I revealed a punctate nuclear staining pattern, with transcriptionally quiescent, fully grown, GV-intact oocytes having larger UBE2I-containing bodies than transcriptionally active, meiotically incompetent growing oocytes. Inhibiting transcription in incompetent oocytes resulted in an increase in the size of the UBE2I-containing bodies. Overexpression of either wild-type UBE2I or catalytically inactive UBE2I resulted in an increase in the size of the UBE2I-containing bodies but also an increase in BrUTP incorporation, suggesting that transcriptional activation by UBE2I is independent of its catalytic activity. Although UBE2I-containing bodies did not completely colocalize with SUMO1 or SUMO2 and SUMO3, which were localized mainly on the nuclear membrane and in the nucleoplasm, UBE2I strikingly colocalized with SFRS2, which is a component of nuclear speckles and critical for mRNA processing. These results suggest a novel function for UBE2I and therefore sumoylation in gene expression..
Localization of the SUMO-conjugating enzyme UBE2I within nuclear speckles in mouse oocytes suggests a novel function in RNA processing.
nuclear speckle; oocyte development; oogenesis; SUMO; transcription; UBE2I