Towards a new understanding on the regulation of mammalian oocyte meiosis resumption

Cell Cycle. 2009 Sep 1;8(17):2741-7. doi: 10.4161/cc.8.17.9471. Epub 2009 Sep 8.


Mammalian oocytes reach prophase of first meiosis around the time of birth, and remain at this stage for months or years, depending on the species. Only after puberty will the fully-grown oocytes begin to resume meiosis which is stimulated by gonadotropin surge. It has long been known that a high level of intra-oocyte cyclic adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cAMP) prevents oocyte meiosis resumption as indicated by germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD). Recently, guanosine triphosphate-binding (G) protein-coupled receptors/G proteins/adenyl cyclase pathway endogenous to the oocyte as well as cAMP diffusion from the somatic compartment through gap junctions have been implicated in maintaining cAMP at levels that prevent oocytes from resuming meiosis. Another second messager molecule, guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP), has also recently been found to play important roles in maintaining oocyte meiosis arrest. cGMP in the follicular somatic cells diffuses into the oocyte and causes an increase in oocyte cAMP, presumably by acting on phosphodiesterase 3 (PDE3). The cGMP level in the somatic compartment of the follicle decreases in response to luteinizing hormone (LH), and this change may be mediated through the epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like factors and specific cGMP-phosphodiesterase subtype activity. It is well known that gonadotropic stimulation of meiotic resumption depends on mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation in the somatic compartment of the follicle; recent studies show that LH, through cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA) and protein kinase C (PKC) pathways, induces the synthesis of paracine factors such as EGF-like facors and meiosis activating sterol (MAS) to regulate oocyte GVBD via the MAPK pathway in follicle cells. A recent granulosa cell-specific knockout study has for the first time provided in vivo evidence for the important role of extracellular regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), two main forms of MAPK, and their downstream molecules in granulosa cells in oocyte meiosis resumption. Unresolved questions and future directions on research regarding signaling changes in follicle cells and oocytes as well their communication in response to the gonadotropin surge are addressed in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenylyl Cyclases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinase Type II / metabolism
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism
  • Meiosis*
  • Oocytes / cytology*
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinase Type II
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Adenylyl Cyclases