The roles of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) during meiotic progression beyond the meiosis I (MI) stage in porcine oocytes were investigated. PI 3-kinase exists in cumulus cells and oocytes, and the PI 3-kinase inhibitor, LY294002, suppressed the activation of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase in denuded oocytes during the beginning of the treatment. However, in denuded oocytes cultured with LY294002, the MAP kinase activity steadily increased, and at 48 h of cultivation MAP kinase activity, p34cdc2 kinase activity, and proportion of oocytes that had reached the meiosis II (MII) stage were at a similar level to those of oocytes cultured without LY294002. In contrast, LY294002 almost completely inhibited the activation of MAP kinase, p34cdc2 kinase activity, and meiotic progression to the MII stage in oocytes surrounded with cumulus cells throughout the treatment. Treating cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) with LY294002 produced a significant decrease in the phosphorylation of connexin-43, a gap junctional protein, in cumulus cells compared with that in COCs cultured without LY294002. These results indicate that PI 3-kinase activity in cumulus cells contributes to the activation of MAP kinase and p34cdc2 kinase, and to meiotic progression beyond the MI stage. Moreover, gap junctional communications between cumulus cells and oocytes may be closed by phosphorylation of connexin-43 through PI 3-kinase activation in cumulus cells, leading to the activation of MAP kinase in porcine oocytes.
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