Protein kinase C (PKC) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in cumulus cells are involved in FSH-induced meiotic resumption of cumulus-enclosed oocytes (CEOs), but their regulation and cross talk are unknown. The present experiments were designed to investigate 1) the possible involvement of MAPK cascade in PKC-induced meiotic resumption; 2) the regulation of PKC on MAPK activity in FSH-induced oocyte maturation; and 3) the pattern of PKC and MAPK function in induced meiotic resumption of mouse oocytes. PKC activators, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) and 1-oleoyl-2-acetyl-sn-glycerol (OAG), induced the meiotic resumption of CEOs and activation of MAPK in cumulus cells, whereas this effect could be abolished by PKC inhibitors, calphostin C and chelerythrine, or MEK inhibitor U0126. These results suggest that PKC might induce the meiotic reinitiation of CEOs by activating MAPK in cumulus cells. Both PKC inhibitors and U0126 inhibited the FSH-induced germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) of oocytes and MAPK activation in cumulus cells, suggesting that PKC and MAPK are involved in FSH-induced GVBD of mouse CEOs. Protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide (CHX) inhibited FSH- or PMA-induced oocyte meiotic resumption, but not the MAPK activation in cumulus cells. FSH and PKC activators induced the GVBD in denuded oocytes cocultured with cumulus cells in hypoxanthine (HX)-supplemented medium, and this effect could be reversed by U0126. Thus, when activated by FSH and PKC, MAPK may stimulate the synthesis of specific proteins in cumulus cells followed by secretion of an unknown positive factor that is capable of inducing GVBD in oocytes.
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