Journal of cell science

Error-prone meiotic division and subfertility in mice with oocyte-conditional knockdown of pericentrin.

PMID 28193732


Mouse oocytes lack canonical centrosomes and instead contain unique acentriolar microtubule-organizing centers (aMTOCs). To test the function of these distinct aMTOCs in meiotic spindle formation, pericentrin (Pcnt), an essential centrosome/MTOC protein, was knocked down exclusively in oocytes by using a transgenic RNAi approach. Here, we provide evidence that disruption of aMTOC function in oocytes promotes spindle instability and severe meiotic errors that lead to pronounced female subfertility. Pcnt-depleted oocytes from transgenic (Tg) mice were ovulated at the metaphase-II stage, but show significant chromosome misalignment, aneuploidy and premature sister chromatid separation. These defects were associated with loss of key Pcnt-interacting proteins (γ-tubulin, Nedd1 and Cep215) from meiotic spindle poles, altered spindle structure and chromosome-microtubule attachment errors. Live-cell imaging revealed disruptions in the dynamics of spindle assembly and organization, together with chromosome attachment and congression defects. Notably, spindle formation was dependent on Ran GTPase activity in Pcnt-deficient oocytes. Our findings establish that meiotic division is highly error-prone in the absence of Pcnt and disrupted aMTOCs, similar to what reportedly occurs in human oocytes. Moreover, these data underscore crucial differences between MTOC-dependent and -independent meiotic spindle assembly.

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