A universal response to cellular stress is the expression of transformation-related protein 53 (TRP53). This transcription factor reduces cell proliferation and/or survival and is classed as a tumour suppressor protein. Several stresses (including culture) cause increased TRP53 expression in blastocysts and their reduced long-term developmental potential. This study shows that culture from the zygote stage (but not the 2-cell stage) reduced the development of C57BL6 inbred (but not hybrid) strain mouse embryos. Reduced viability was TRP53 dependent, being partially reversed by a TRP53 inhibitor (Pifithrin-alpha). However, the presence of culture did not cause an increase in Trp53 mRNA levels (levels were reduced following culture, P < 0.001). Transformed mouse 3T3 cell double minute 2 (MDM2) causes the ubiquitination and degradation of TRP53. MDM2 activation is accompanied by phosphorylation of Ser-166, and this is commonly catalyzed by the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase and RAC-alpha serine/threonine-protein kinase (AKT) signaling pathway. Paf is an autocrine embryotrophin that activates the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase/AKT pathway. High levels of TRP53 expression occurred following the culture of zygotes lacking the Paf receptor (Ptafr−/−) and following inhibition of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase or AKT. Inhibition of MDM2 caused a Trp53-dependent reduction in zygote development. Inbred strain embryos cultured from the zygote stage expressed less phosphorylated MDM2 than similar embryos collected from the uterus. The addition of Paf to the media caused increased phosphorylation of MDM2, and this was blocked by inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase and AKT. The study identifies trophic ligand signaling via the activation of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase and AKT as a mechanism resulting in the activation of MDM2.
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