Molecular reproduction and development

Post-ovulatory aging of oocytes disrupts kinase signaling pathways and lysosome biogenesis.

PMID 25242074


Post-ovulatory aging of oocytes results in the progressive loss of fertilization and developmental competence. This degradation of oocyte quality has been the object of numerous investigations, primarily focused on individual signaling pathways which provide limited insight into the status of global signaling events. The purpose of the present investigation was to comprehensively assess broad patterns of signaling pathway activity during in vitro aging as an initial step in defining control points that can be targeted to prevent the reduction in oocyte quality during prolonged culture. An antibody microarray-based phospho-proteome analysis performed on oocytes before and after eight hours of culture revealed significant changes in the abundance or activation state of 43 proteins that function in a wide variety of protein kinase-mediated signaling pathways. Several of the most significantly affected kinases were studied by Western blot and confocal immunofluorescence to corroborate the array results. Prolonged culture resulted in global changes in the abundance and activity of protein kinases that regulate the response to calcium, stress, and cell-cycle control. Examination of intracellular structures revealed a previously unrecognized increase in the abundance of large autophogagic lysosomes, which correlates with changes in protein kinase pathways. These results provide insight into the stresses experienced by oocytes during culture and the diversity of responses that results from them. The observed increase in autophagy-related activity, together with the disruptions in calcium signaling, cell-cycle, and stress-response pathways, have the potential to negatively impact oocyte quality by interfering with the normal sequence of biochemical changes that constitute egg activation following fertilization.