Disruption of gap junctional communication within the ovarian follicle induces oocyte maturation

Endocrinology. 2006 May;147(5):2280-6. doi: 10.1210/en.2005-1011. Epub 2006 Jan 26.


Meiotically arrested mammalian oocytes are stimulated to resume meiosis by LH. This response, which can be reversed by elevation of intraoocyte cAMP levels, is associated with interruption of gap junctional communication (GJC) within the ovarian follicle. In the present study, we examined the hypothesis that disruption of GJC within the ovarian follicle is sufficient for induction of oocyte maturation. For this purpose, we incubated rat follicle-enclosed oocytes with carbenoxolone (CBX), a known blocker of gap junctions. We found that this selective disruptor of GJC promoted maturation of almost all the follicle-enclosed oocytes after 5 h of incubation; this response was also obtained by a transient (2 h) exposure to this agent. CBX-induced oocyte maturation was accompanied by a substantial decrease in intraoocyte concentrations of cAMP that was not associated with elevated activity of type 3A phosphodiesterase (PDE3A). The effect of CBX on reinitiation of meiosis was blocked by isobutylmethylxanthine, a phosphodiesterase inhibitor. Unlike LH, CBX did not activate MAPK in the follicular cells, and inhibition of the MAPK signaling pathway by means of UO126 did not prevent the resumption of meiosis. Injection of CBX into the ovarian bursa of intact animals stimulated maturation in 30% of the oocytes, whereas no maturation was observed in the contralateral ovary injected with PBS. We conclude that, because experimentally induced breakdown of communication within the ovarian follicle is associated with a drop in intraoocyte cAMP concentrations and results in resumption of meiosis, this could be the physiological mechanism employed by LH to stimulate oocyte maturation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3',5'-Cyclic-AMP Phosphodiesterases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Butadienes / pharmacology
  • Carbenoxolone / pharmacology
  • Cell Communication
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 3
  • Female
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / chemistry
  • Gap Junctions / physiology*
  • Granulosa Cells / metabolism
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism
  • Meiosis
  • Models, Statistical
  • Nitriles / pharmacology
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Oocytes / physiology*
  • Ovarian Follicle / cytology
  • Ovarian Follicle / metabolism*
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Time Factors


  • Butadienes
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Nitriles
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • U 0126
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Cyclic AMP
  • 3',5'-Cyclic-AMP Phosphodiesterases
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 3
  • Pde3a protein, rat
  • Carbenoxolone