Dehydroleucodine (DhL), a sesquiterpenic lactone, was isolated and purified from aerial parts of Artemisia douglasiana Besser, a medicinal herb used in Argentina. DhL is an alpha-methylene butyro-gamma-lactone ring connected to a seven-membered ring fused to an exocyclic alpha,beta-unsaturated cyclopentenone ring
It has been previously shown that DhL selectively induces a dose-dependent transient arrest in G2 of both meristematic cells and vascular smooth muscle cells. Treatment with DhL induces an inhibition of spontaneous and progesterone-induced maturation in a dose-dependent manner in Bufo arenarum fully grown oocytes arrested at G2, at the beginning of meiosis I. However, the nature of the mechanisms involved in the process is still unknown.
The aim of this work was to analyse whether DhL's alpha-methylene-gamma-lactone function is responsible for the inhibition effect on meiosis reinitiation of Bufo arenarum oocytes as well as some of the transduction pathways that could be involved in this effect using a derivative of DhL inactivated for alpha-methylenelactone, the 11,13-dihydro-dehydroleucodine (2H-DhL).
The use of 2H-DhL in the maturation promoting factor (MPF) amplification experiments by injection of both cytoplasm with active MPF and of germinal vesicle content showed results similar to the ones obtained with DhL, suggesting that the hydrogenated derivative would act in a similar way to DhL.
Pretreatment with DhL or 2H-DhL did not affect the percentage of germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) induced by H89, a protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor, which suggests that these lactones would act on another step of the signalling pathway that induces MPF activation. The fact that both DhL and 2H-Dhl inhibit GVBD induced by okadaic acid microinjection suggests that they could act on the activity of the Myt1 kinase. This idea is supported by the experiments of injection of GV contents in which an inhibitory effect of these lactones on GVBD was also observed.
Our results indicate that the inhibitory effect on meiosis progression of DhL does not depend only on the activity of the alpha-methylenelactone function, as its hydrogenated derivative, 2H-DhL, in which this function has been inactivated, causes similar effects on amphibian oocytes. However, 2H-DhL was less active than DhL as higher doses were required to obtain a significant inhibition. On the other hand, the analysis of the participation of certain mediators in some of the signalling pathways leading to MPF activation suggests that the Myt1 kinase could be a target of these lactones, while cdc25 phosphatase would not be affected. Besides, the PKA inhibition assays indicate that these lactones would act earlier in the signalling pathways.