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In response to gonadotropins and androgens, testicular cells produce various molecules that control proper proliferation and differentiation of spermatogenic cells through their paracrine and autocrine actions. However, molecules functioning downstream of the hormonal stimulation are poorly understood. Leukaemia inhibitory factor (Lif) is known to maintain the pluripotency of stem cells including embryonic stem cells and primordial germ cells at least in vitro, but its actual roles in vivo remain to be elucidated. To clarify the function of Lif in teleost (medaka) testes, we examined the effects of Lif on spermatogenesis in a newly established cell culture system using a cell line (named Mtp1) derived from medaka testicular somatic cells as feeder cells. We found that addition of baculovirus-produced recombinant medaka Lif to the culture medium or co-culture with Lif-overexpressing Mtp1 cells increased the number of spermatogonia. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analyses of the medaka testes showed that mRNAs and proteins of Lif are expressed in spermatogonia and the surrounding Sertoli cells, with higher expression levels in type A (undifferentiated) spermatogonia than in type B (differentiated) spermatogonia. Our findings suggest that Lif regulates spermatogonial cell proliferation in the medaka.
Vertebrate oocytes do not contain centrosomes and therefore form an acentrosomal spindle during oocyte maturation. γ-Tubulin is known to be essential for nucleation of microtubules at centrosomes, but little is known about the behaviour and role of γ-tubulin during spindle formation in oocytes. We first observed sequential localization of γ-tubulin during spindle formation in Xenopus oocytes. γ-Tubulin assembled in the basal regions of the germinal vesicle (GV) at the onset of germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) and remained on the microtubule-organizing centre (MTOC) until a complex of the MTOC and transient-microtubule array (TMA) reached the oocyte surface. Prior to bipolar spindle formation, oocytes formed an aggregation of microtubules and γ-tubulin was concentrated at the centre of the aggregation. At the late stage of bipolar spindle formation, γ-tubulin accumulated at each pole. Anti-dynein antibody disrupted the localization of γ-tubulin, indicating that the translocation described above is dependent on dynein activity. We finally revealed that XMAP215, a microtubule-associated protein cooperating with γ-tubulin for the assembly of microtubules, but not γ-tubulin, was phosphorylated during oocyte maturation. These results suggest that γ-tubulin is translocated by dynein to regulate microtubule organization leading to spindle formation and that modification of the molecules that cooperate with γ-tubulin, but not γ-tubulin itself, is important for microtubule reorganization.
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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