Meiotic maturation of mouse oocytes in vitro: inhibition of maturation at specific stages of nuclear progression

P. M. Wassarman, W. J. Josefowicz, G. E. Letourneau

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In vitro studies of meiotic maturation of mouse oocytes have been carried out in the presence of several drugs. The individual steps of nuclear progression, including dissolution of the nuclear (germinal vesicle) membrane, condensation of dictyate chromatin into compact bivalents, formation of the first metaphase spindle, and extrusion of the first polar body, are each susceptible to one or more of these drugs. Germinal vesicle breakdown, the initial morphological feature characteristic of meiotic maturation, is inhibited by dibutyryl cyclic AMP. However, even in the presence of dibutyryl cyclic AMP, the nuclear membrane becomes extremely convoluted and condensation of chromatin is initiated but aborts at a stage short of compact bivalents. Germinal vesicle breakdown and chromatin condensation take place in an apparently normal manner in the presence of puromycin, Colcemid, or cytochalasin B. Nuclear progression is blocked at the circular bivalent stage when oocytes are cultured continuously in the presence of puromycin or Colcemid, whereas oocytes cultured in the presence of cytochalasin B proceed to the first meiotic metaphase, form an apparently normal spindle, and arrest. Emission of a polar body is inhibited by all of these drugs. The inhibitory effects of these drugs on meiotic maturation are reversible to varying degrees dependent upon the duration of exposure to the drug and upon the nature of the drug. These studies suggest that dissolution of the mouse oocyte's germinal vesicle and condensation of chromatin are not dependent upon concomitant protein synthesis or upon microtubules. On the other hand, the complete condensation of chromatin into compact bivalents apparently requires breakdown of the germinal vesicle. Failure of homologous chromosomes to separate after normal alignment on the meiotic spindle in the presence of cytochalasin B suggest that microfilaments may be involved in nuclear progression at this stage of maturation. Cytokinesis, in the form of polar body formation, is blocked when any one of the earlier events of maturation fails to take place.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-545
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1976
Externally publishedYes


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