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Culturing of matured porcine oocytes in vitro results in the enhancement of their cytoplasmic ability for oocyte activation (so-called ageing), although they are arrested at metaphase II. The enhanced ability for oocyte activation is related to decreased activity of the maturation promoting factor (MPF). In the present study we clarified the molecular mechanism of MPF inactivation during ageing, especially the changes in the phosphorylation status of p34cdc2, a catalytic subunit of MPF, compared with that in fertilised oocytes. The MPF activity decreased gradually when maturation culture was prolonged from 36 to 72 h, confirming the decreasing MPF activity in aged oocytes. The activity of 48 h matured oocytes also decreased after in vitro fertilisation. Immunoblotting of p34cdc2 with anti-PSTAIRE antibody revealed that the culturing of matured oocytes induces a gradual increase in pre-MPF, which is a p34cdc2 and cyclin B complex inactivated by phosphorylation at the inhibitory phosphorylation site of p34cdc2. In contrast, pre-MPF decreased after fertilisation, indicating the degradation of cyclin B. These results suggest that the molecular mechanisms of inactivation of MPF are different between oocyte activation and ageing, and that the mechanism during ageing might be based on the inhibitory phosphorylation of p34cdc2, whereas that of oocyte activation is based on the degradation of cyclin B.
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