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We have used confocal microscopy to measure calcium waves and examine the distribution of tubulin in oocytes of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis during meiosis. We show that the fertilisation calcium wave in these oocytes originates in the vegetal pole. The sperm penetration site and female meiotic apparatus are found at opposite poles of the oocyte at fertilisation, confirming that C. intestinalis sperm enter in the vegetal pole of the oocyte. Following fertilisation, ascidian oocytes are characterised by repetitive calcium waves. Meiosis I-associated waves originate at the vegetal pole of the oocyte, and travel towards the animal pole. In contrast, the calcium waves during meiosis II initiate at the oocyte equator, and cross the oocyte cytoplasm perpendicular to the point of emission of the polar body. Immunolocalisation of tubulin during meiosis II reveals that the male centrosome is also located between animal and vegetal poles prior to initiation of the meiosis II-associated calcium waves, suggesting that the male centrosome influences the origin of these calcium transients. Ascidians are also characterised by an increase in sensitivity to intracellular calcium release after fertilisation. We show that this is not simply an effect of oocyte activation. The data strongly suggest a role for the male centrosome in controlling the mechanism and localisation of post-fertilisation intracellular calcium waves.
Primary spermatocytes originating from prepubertal mouse testes were electrofused to metaphase II (MII)-stage oocytes, enucleated either by the conventional micromanipulation method or by chemical treatment with etoposide and cycloheximide. These experiments were followed by assessment of morphological changes in transferred nuclei using light microscopy, by chromosomal analyses and by screening of hybrids for the presence or absence of DNA synthesis using anti-bromodeoxyuridine antibody and immunofluorescence staining of the hybrids. The results show differences between the two types of ooplasts in susceptibility to activation stimuli. However, when activated, both types of ooplasts gave rise to hybrids of similar morphology. From 35.3% to 63% of activated hybrids originating from chemically or microsurgically enucleated oocytes, respectively, contained one large pronucleus in cytoplasm, 62% or 31.6% hybrids from those two groups, respectively, possessed two smaller pronuclei and a few contained three or four pronuclei. No DNA synthesis was detected in any hybrid containing one or more pronuclei. The chromosome spreads of hybrids with premature chromosome condensation (PCC) morphology (before activation) show that most of the hybrids had a diploid (2n) number of chromosomes. The nature and regularity of the cell division cycle in the hybrids are discussed.
We reported previously that in mouse testis calmodulin-dependent protein phosphatase (calcineurin) is localised in the nuclei of round and elongating spermatids (Cell Tissue Res. 1995; 281: 273-81). In this study, we studied the immunohistochemical localisation of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CaM kinase II) using antibodies against CaM kinase IIγ from chicken gizzard and specific antibodies raised against the amino acid sequence Ileu480–Ala493 of this enzyme, and compared it with the distribution of calmodulin. Indirect immunofluorescence was most concentrated in early spermatocytes and localised in the outermost layer of seminiferous tubules where the calmodulin level was relatively low. Measurements of immuno-gold particle densities on electron micrographs revealed that CaM kinase II is transiently increased in the nucleus of zygotene spermatocytes. These observations suggest the involvement of CaM kinase II in the meiotic chromosomal pairing process. An extremely high concentration of calmodulin in spermatogenic cells undergoing meiosis may not be directly related to activation of calmodulin-dependent kinases and phosphatases.
Nuclear bodies occuring during the 2-cell stage of bovine embryos (obtained either by in vitro fertilisation of in vitro matured ovarian oocytes, or collection after fertilisation and cleavage in vivo) were studied using ultrastructural cytochemistry and immunocytochemistry to determine whether their occurrence may be linked with the onset of embryonic transcription. In addition, the species-specific ultrastructural features of the interchromatin structures of the 2-cell bovine embryo were displayed. Three different types of nuclear bodies were distinguished: (i) nucleolus precursor bodies (NPBs), (ii) loose bodies (LBs) and (iii) dense bodies (DBs). In order to determine their possible functional significance, we considered parallels between these three nuclear entities and interchromatin compartments reported in other cells. As detected by their preferential ribonucleoprotein staining, all types of nuclear bodies contained ribonucleoproteins. In contrast to the other types of nuclear bodies studied, NPBs contained argyrophilic proteins but in no case they did show morphological features of functional nucleoli. Both compact and vacuolated forms of NPBs were seen in both in vivo and in vitro embryos, sometimes simultaneously in the same nucleus. LBs and DBs reacted with antibodies to Sm antigen, indicating the presence of a group of nucleoplasmic, non-nucleolar small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs). The immunoreactivity for Sm antigen was more intense and homogeneous in DBs than in LBs. DBs were seen in both categories of embryo. A possible kinship of DBs with the sphere organelle known from oocytes of different animal species or the prominent spherical inclusions of the early mouse embryo nuclei is suggested. The last type of intranuclear body, the LBs, showed a composite structure. Their granular component, occurring in clusters and displaying immunoreactivity for Sm antigen, was similar to interchromatin granules and was therefore named IG-like granules. Another component forming the LBs showed a much finer structure and a lower immunoreactivity with anti-Sm antibodies. We suggest that this amorphous component may be related to the IG-associated zone. All three types of intranuclear bodies were often seen close together, suggesting their possible mutual functional relationship. From these and other observations we conclude that the intranuclear bodies in 2-cell bovine embryos correspond, with the exception of the NPB, to similar structures/compartments supposed to accumulate inactive spliceosomal components in certain phases of somatic cell nucleus functions. Accordingly, the occurrence of such nuclear bodies does not represent cytological evidence for RNA synthesis. In contrast to this, an important morphological feature revealing the status of the bovine 2-cell embryo is the vacuol-isation of the NPB.
In this study we examined the behaviour and role of an intra-acrosomal antigenic molecule, acrin 3, during mouse fertilisation in vitro by assessing the effect of its pertinent monoclonal antibody mMC101. Experiments were designed to assess the effect of mMC101 on sperm–zona pellucida binding, the acrosome reaction, zona pellucida penetration, sperm–egg fusion, and fertilisation in vitro. mMC101 did not affect sperm motility or primary and secondary binding to the zona pellucida, but significantly inhibited fertilisation of zona-pellucida-intact oocytes in a dose-dependent manner. In the presence of mMC101 at 100 μg/ml concentration in TYH medium, none of the oocytes developed to pronuclear stage by 5 h after co-incubation of the gametes, but the pronucleus formation rate recovered to some extent (45.3%) after 8 h, indicating a delay of early embryonic development. mMC101 also delayed and significantly suppressed zona pellucida penetration by sperm. Acrin 3 dispersed and did not remain on completely acrosome-reacted sperm. Although mMC101 did not influence the zona-pellucida-induced acrosome reaction, it significantly inhibited fertilisation when acrosome-reacted sperm in the presence of mMC101 inseminated zona-pellucida-free oocytes. However, fertilisation remained unaffected when acrosome-reacted sperm in the absence of mMC101 inseminated zona-pellucida-free oocytes even in its presence. Thus, acrin 3 appears to facilitate zona pellucida penetration and is also likely to be involved in sperm–oocyte fusion by modifying the sperm plasma membrane during the acrosome reaction.
This study was carried out to examine how different combinations of pyruvate and glucose affect spontaneous meiotic maturation of cumulus-cell-enclosed mouse oocytes (CEO) to metaphase II (MII). Most experiments used an open system in which oocytes were cultured in 1 ml medium in plastic tubes. Initial experiments examined the dose response effects of pyruvate or glucose alone in the presence or absence of 2 mM glutamine. When medium lacked both pyruvate and glucose, more than 91% of the oocytes died in glutamine-free medium during 15 h of culture; viability was restored with the addition of glutamine, but only 11% of the CEO reached MII. In the absence of glutamine, 62–68% of oocytes completed maturation in 0.23–2.3 mM pyruvate, while 44–60% MII was observed in 0.55–27.8 mM glucose. The addition of glutamine to these cultures had a general suppressive effect on the completion of maturation. When glucose was added to pyruvate-containing cultures, the combination of 1 mM pyruvate/5.5 mM glucose was most effective in supporting maturation (about 90% MII), with little effect of glutamine. No further increase in maturation was observed when glucose was increased five-fold (to 27.8 mM). The positive effect of glucose was in part attributed to stimulation of glycolysis and increased production of pyruvate, since a reduced culture volume (8 μl), which allows the accumulation of secreted pyruvate, improved maturation in glucose-containing, but not pyruvate-containing, medium, and FSH, which stimulates glycolysis, increased progression to MII in glucose-containing, but not pyruvate-containing, medium. Yet these results also suggest that glucose has a beneficial effect on maturation apart from simple provision of pyruvate. The pyruvate effect was directly on the oocyte, because denuded oocytes responded more effectively than CEO to this energy substrate. The highest percentage of MII oocytes (96–97%) occurred in microdrop cultures containing glucose but lacking glutamine. These results indicate that glutamine supports oocyte viability but is not an adequate energy source for the completion of spontaneous meiotic maturation and may be detrimental. In addition, while pyruvate and glucose alone can each support meiotic progression of CEO to MII, optimal maturation requires the provision of both substrates to the culture medium when a large volume (1 ml) is used. It is concluded that careful attention to specific energy substrate supplementation and culture volume is important to optimise spontaneous meiotic maturation in vitro.
Actin filaments play an important role in cell division. The present study was designed to examine the relationship between actin filament distribution and pig embryo development. When in vivo matured and fertilised pig oocytes were cultured in TCM 199 or NCSU 23, in various proportions, 45–65% of inseminated oocytes developed to the 2- to 4-cell stages but blastocyst development was observed only in NCSU 23 (34%) or NCSU 23 containing 10% TCM 199 (7%). Supplementation of NCSU 23 medium with 20% or more TCM 199 resulted in no blastocyst formation. Examination of actin filaments indicated that microfilaments were distributed in the cortex, at the junction of blastomeres and in the perinuclear area in the embryos cultured in NCSU 23, but perinuclear actin filaments were not observed in embryos cultured in TCM 199. When 2- to 4-cell stage embryos obtained from TCM 199 were transferred to NCSU 23 medium at 36 h after in vivo fertilisation, 57% of the cleaved embryos developed to blastocysts, which was no different from the proportion obtained after culture in NCSU 23 alone (56%). In addition, when 2- to 4-cell stage embryos obtained from TCM 199 were transferred to NCSU 23, most embryos showed perinuclear actin filaments within 6 h. The results indicate that the composition of the culture medium plays an important role in the polymerisation of actin filaments, which in turn influences embryo development. It is possible that pig embryo development was blocked by some components in TCM 199 which prevented actin filament polymerisation.
In starfish ovaries follicle cells that envelop each oocyte are thought to mediate the production of a maturation inducing substance (MIS), identified as 1-methyladenine, that induces maturation and spawning of oocytes after exposure to a gonadotropic substance secreted by the radial nerve (RNF). Studies were carried out to assess the possible role of extrafollicular cells within the ovarian wall in mediating this signal transduction process in the ovary of Pisaster ochraceus. Oocyte maturation and spawning occurred following the addition of RNF to intact ovarian tissue in vitro whereas no maturation occurred following the addition of RNF to germinal vesicle (GV) oocytes or GV oocytes surrounded by follicle cells. In contrast, oocyte maturation occurred when small ovarian wall fragments, lacking mature follicles, were incubated with GV oocytes and RNF. Neither actinomycin D nor cycloheximide altered RNF induction of oocyte maturation in the presence of the ovarian wall tissue whereas preheating (boiling water for 5 min) the tissue obliterated its response to RNF. Non-ovarian tissues failed to produce MIS in response to RNF. Results suggest that ovarian components other than the follicle cells that envelop fully grown immature oocyte are responsive to RNF and represent a significant and previously unrecognised intra-ovarian source of MIS.