Aurora-A is a serine/threonine protein kinase that plays a role in cell-cycle regulation. The activity of this kinase has been shown to be required for regulating multiple stages of mitotic progression in somatic cells. In this study, the changes in aurora-;A expression were revealed in mouse oocytes using Western blotting. The subcellular localization of aurora-A during oocyte meiotic maturation, fertilization, and early cleavages as well as after antibody microinjection or microtubule assembly perturbance was studied with confocal microscopy. The quantity of aurora-A protein was high in the germinal vesicle (GV) and metaphase II (MII) oocytes and remained stable during other meiotic maturation stages. Aurora-A concentrated in the GV before meiosis resumption, in the pronuclei of fertilized eggs, and in the nuclei of early embryo blastomeres. Aurora-A was localized to the spindle poles of the meiotic spindle from the metaphase I (MI) stage to metaphase II stage. During early embryo development, aurora-A was found in association with the mitotic spindle poles. Aurora-A was not found in the spindle region when colchicine or staurosporine was used to inhibit microtubule organization, while it accumulated as several dots in the cytoplasm after taxol treatment. Aurora-A antibody microinjection decreased the rate of germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) and distorted MI spindle organization. Our results indicate that aurora-A is a critical regulator of cell-cycle progression and microtubule organization during mouse oocyte meiotic maturation, fertilization, and early embryo cleavage.
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