Although the oocyte is the largest cell in the body and an unavoidable phase in life, its physiology is still poorly understood, and other cell types provide little insight into its unique nature. Even basic cellular functions in the oocyte such as energy metabolism are not yet fully understood. It is known that the mitochondria of the female gamete exhibit an immature form characterized by limited energy production from glucose and oxidative phosphorylation. We show that the bovine oocyte uses alternative means to maintain ATP production during maturation, namely, the adenosine salvage pathway. Meiosis resumption is triggered by destruction of cyclic AMP by phosphodiesterases producing adenosine monophosphate that is converted into ATP by adenylate kinases and creatine kinases. Inhibition of these enzymes decreased ATP production, and addition of their substrates restored ATP production in denuded oocytes. Addition of phosphocreatine to the oocyte maturation medium influenced the phenotype of the resulting blastocysts. We propose a model in which adenylate kinases and creatine kinases act as drivers of ATP production from added AMP during oocyte maturation.
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Vol. 91 • No. 3