Precise coordination of meiotic progression is a critical determinant of an egg's capacity to be fertilized successfully, and zinc has emerged as a key regulatory element in this process. An early manifestation of a regulatory role for this transition metal is the significant increase in total intracellular zinc. This accumulation is essential for meiotic progression beyond telophase I and the establishment of meiotic arrest at metaphase II. The subsequent developmental event, fertilization, induces a rapid expulsion of labile zinc that is a hallmark event in meiotic resumption. In the present study, we show that the zinc fluxes work, in part, by altering the activity of the cytostatic factor (CSF), the cellular activity required for the establishment and maintenance of metaphase II arrest in the mature, unfertilized egg. We propose a model in which zinc exerts concentration-dependent regulation of meiosis through the CSF component EMI2, a zinc-binding protein. Together, the data support the conclusion that zinc itself, through its interaction with EMI2, is a central component of the CSF.
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Vol. 86 • No. 4