Meiosis-activating sterol (MAS) was shown to overcome the inhibitory effect of hypoxanthine on spontaneous maturation of mouse oocytes and was suggested to mediate the stimulation of meiosis by gonadotropins. Follicular fluid (FF)-MAS is synthesized by cytochrome P450 lanosterol 14α-demethylase (LDM). Follicular LDM was preferentially localized in oocytes by immunohistochemistry. Using [3H]acetate or R-[5-3H]mevalonate as precursors as well as high-performance liquid chromatographic and thin-layer chromatographic separation, we have measured the concentrations of de novo-synthesized lanosterol, FF-MAS, and cholesterol in rat graafian follicles, cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs), and denuded oocytes (DOs) treated with LH, AY-9944 (an inhibitor of Δ14-reductase, which was anticipated to increase FF-MAS levels by inhibiting its metabolism), or both after 8 h of culture. In follicles, both LH and AY-9944 increased the accumulation of FF-MAS as compared to controls. In COCs, AY-9944 caused a marked increase in FF-MAS, but we were unable to detect accumulation of FF-MAS in DOs. Neither the endogenous increases in FF-MAS accumulation nor the addition of FF-MAS to the culture medium could overcome the inhibition on resumption of meiosis by phosphodiesterase inhibitors. Compared to LH-induced resumption of meiosis in follicles, that induced by AY-9944 was much delayed. These results call into question any role of FF-MAS as an obligatory mediator of LH activity on germinal vesicle breakdown. The discrepancy between the positive staining for LDM in oocytes and our inability to detect de novo synthesized FF-MAS in DOs may relate to the sensitivity of the methodology employed and either the number of oocytes used or a deficiency in LDM synthetic activity in such oocytes. Further studies are required to confirm any of these alternatives.
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