During the periovulatory period, the induction of prostaglandin G/H synthase-2 (PTGS2) expression in cumulus cells and associated prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production are implicated in the terminal differentiation of the cumulus-oocyte complex. During the present study, the effects of the PTGS2/PGE2 pathway on the developmental competence of bovine oocytes were investigated using an in vitro model of maturation, fertilization, and early embryonic development. The specific inhibition of PTGS2 activity with NS-398 during in vitro maturation (IVM) significantly restricted mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation in oocytes at the germinal vesicle breakdown stage and reduced both cumulus expansion and the maturation rate after 22 h of culture. In addition, significantly higher rates of abnormal meiotic spindle organization were observed after 26 h of culture. Periconceptional PTGS2 inhibition did not affect fertilization but significantly reduced the speed of embryo development. Embryo output rates were significantly decreased on Day 6 postfertilization but not on Day 7. However, total blastomere number was significantly lower in embryos obtained after PTGS2 inhibition. The addition of PGE2 to IVM and in vitro fertilization cultures containing NS-398 overrode oocyte maturation and early embryonic developmental defects. Protein and mRNA expression for the prostaglandin E receptor PTGER2 were found in oocytes, whereas the PTGER2, PTGER3, and PTGER4 subtypes were expressed in cumulus cells. This study is the first to report the involvement of PGE2 in oocyte MAPK activation during the maturation process. Taken together, these results indicate that PGE2-mediated interactions between somatic and germ cells during the periconceptional period promote both in vitro oocyte maturation and preimplantation embryonic development in cattle.
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Vol. 84 • No. 6