Large Cytoplasm Is Linked to the Error-Prone Nature of Oocytes

Dev Cell. 2017 May 8;41(3):287-298.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2017.04.009.


Chromosome segregation during meiosis in oocytes is error prone. The uniquely large cytoplasmic size of oocytes, which provides support for embryogenesis after fertilization, might be a predisposing factor for meiotic errors. However, this hypothesis remains unproven. Here, we show that cytoplasmic size affects the functionality of the acentrosomal spindle. Artificially decreasing the cytoplasmic size in mouse oocytes allows the acentrosomal spindle poles to have a better-focused distribution of microtubule-organizing centers and to biorient chromosomes more efficiently, whereas enlargement of the cytoplasmic size has the opposite effects. Moreover, we found that the cytoplasmic size-dependent dilution of nuclear factors, including anaphase inhibitors that are preformed at the nuclear membrane, limits the spindle's capacity to prevent anaphase entry with misaligned chromosomes. The present study defines a large cytoplasmic volume as a cell-intrinsic feature linked to the error-prone nature of oocytes. This may represent a trade-off between meiotic fidelity and post-fertilization developmental competence.

Keywords: chromosome segregation; meiosis; oocyte; spindle; spindle checkpoint.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaphase / physiology
  • Animals
  • Chromosome Segregation / physiology*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Fertilization / physiology
  • Meiosis / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Oocytes / cytology*
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism*