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The potential roles of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) during the maturation and aging of oocytes produced by a marine protostome worm

  • Stephen A. Stricker (a1) and Niharika Ravichandran (a2)


Previous investigations have indicated that c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) regulates the maturation and aging of oocytes produced by deuterostome animals. In order to assess the roles of this kinase in a protostome, oocytes of the marine nemertean worm Cerebratulus were stimulated to mature and subsequently aged before being probed with phospho-specific antibodies against active forms of JNK and maturation-promoting factor (MPF). Based on blots of maturing oocytes, a 40-kD putative JNK is normally activated during germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD), which begins at 30 min post-stimulation with seawater, whereas treating immature oocytes with JNK inhibitors downregulates both the 40-kD JNK signal and GVBD, collectively suggesting a 40-kD JNK may facilitate oocyte maturation. Along with this JNK activity, mature oocytes also exhibit high levels of MPF at 2 h post-stimulation. However, by ~6–8 h post-GVBD, mature oocytes lose the 40-kD JNK signal, and at ~20–30 h of aging, an ~48-kD phospho-JNK band arises as oocytes deactivate MPF and begin to lyse during a necroptotic-like mode of death. Accordingly, JNK inhibitors reduce the aging-related 48-kD JNK phosphorylation while maintaining MPF activity and retarding oocyte degradation. Such findings suggest that a 48-kD JNK may help deactivate MPF and trigger death. Possible mechanisms by which JNK activation either together with, or independently of, protein neosynthesis might stimulate oocyte degradation are discussed.


Corresponding author

All correspondence to: Stephen A. Stricker. Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA. Tel: +1 505 2771883. Fax: +1 505 2770304. E-mail:


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