The cell cycle is regulated by phosphorylation events via a cascade of protein kinases and phosphatases, but many of their substrates remain unknown. To study whether proteins of the metaphase II-arrested mouse oocyte meiotic spindle are substrates for phosphorylation events, we used okadaic acid (OA), a potent phosphatase inhibitor, upon fully mature spindles. Incubation of oocytes for 3 hr with 1 microM OA led to a dramatic lengthening of the spindle and a disorganization of the metaphase plate. Electron microscope studies revealed that this was due to a disruption of the interactions between the microtubules and the kinetochores. Biochemical analysis including MPM-2 immunoblotting and [32P]phosphate labeling of whole oocytes revealed several changes in the phosphorylation pattern following the OA treatment. Moreover, meiotic spindle purification or microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) isolation showed that some of these phosphorylations occur on proteins associated with the microtubules or with structures closely related to the spindle. These results suggest that the changes occurring in the microtubule network during the cell cycle are partly due to the phosphorylation of some proteins associated with the microtubules.