Translational control plays a central role during oocyte maturation and early embryogenesis, as these processes occur in the absence of transcription. MSY2, a member of a multifunctional Y-box protein family, is implicated in repressing the translation of paternal mRNAs. Here, we characterize MSY2 expression in mouse oocytes and preimplantation embryos. Northern blot analysis indicates that MSY2 expression is highly restricted and essentially confined to the oocyte in the female mouse. MSY2 transcript and protein, as assessed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and immunoblotting, respectively, are expressed in growing oocytes, metaphase II-arrested eggs, and 1-cell embryos, but then are degraded by the late 2-cell stage; no expression is detectable in the blastocysts. During oocyte maturation, MSY2 is phosphorylated and following fertilization it is dephosphorylated. Quantification of the mass amount of MSY2 reveals that it represents 2% of the total protein in the fully grown oocyte, i.e., it is a very abundant protein. Both endogenous MSY2 and MSY2-enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP), which is synthesized following microinjection of an mRNA encoding MSY2-EGFP, are primarily localized in the cytoplasm, and about 75% of the MSY2 remains associated with oocyte cytoskeletal preparations. Results of these studies are consistent with the proposal that MSY2 functions by stabilizing and/or repressing the translation of maternal mRNAs.
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