Stops and starts in mammalian oocytes: recent advances in understanding the regulation of meiotic arrest and oocyte maturation

Lisa M Mehlmann
Reproduction 2005, 130 (6): 791-9
Mammalian oocytes grow and undergo meiosis within ovarian follicles. Oocytes are arrested at the first meiotic prophase, held in meiotic arrest by the surrounding follicle cells until a surge of LH from the pituitary stimulates the immature oocyte to resume meiosis. Meiotic arrest depends on a high level of cAMP within the oocyte. This cAMP is generated by the oocyte, through the stimulation of the G(s) G-protein by the G-protein-coupled receptor, GPR3. Stimulation of meiotic maturation by LH occurs via its action on the surrounding somatic cells rather than on the oocyte itself. LH induces the expression of epidermal growth factor-like proteins in the mural granulosa cells that act on the cumulus cells to trigger oocyte maturation. The signaling pathway between the cumulus cells and the oocyte, however, remains unknown. This review focuses on recent studies highlighting the importance of the oocyte in producing cAMP to maintain arrest, and discusses possible targets at the level of the oocyte on which LH could act to stimulate meiotic resumption.

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