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J Cell Sci 2006 Sep 01;119Pt 17:3491-501. doi: 10.1242/jcs.03082.
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Inactivation of MAPK in mature oocytes triggers progression into mitosis via a Ca2+ -dependent pathway but without completion of S phase.

Zhang WL , Huitorel P , Geneviere AM , Chiri S , Ciapa B .

Unfertilized sea urchin eggs that are arrested at G1 phase after completion of meiosis contain a highly phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase (MAPK), the ERK-like protein (ERK-LP). Several data including our previous results show that ERK-LP is inactivated after fertilization, which agrees with results obtained in other species including Xenopus, starfish and mammals. The question is to elucidate the function of a high MAPK activity in sea urchin eggs. We report here that dephosphorylation of ERK-LP with very low concentrations of two MEK inhibitors, PD98059 or U0126, triggers entry into mitosis. Under these conditions, recurrent oscillations of the phosphorylation of ERK-LP and of a tyrosine residue in Cdc2 occur, and the intracellular Ca2+ level (Ca2+ i) progressively and slowly increases. Nuclear envelope breakdown and all mitotic events initiated after dephosphorylation of ERK-LP are inhibited when changes in Ca2+ i are prevented; however, they are independent of the intracellular pH. These results suggest that inactivation of a MEK-ERK pathway, normally induced after fertilization of sea urchin eggs, triggers entry into mitosis by altering Ca2+ i but cannot trigger full DNA replication. We discuss the hypothesis that neither inactivation nor activation of a MEK-ERK pathway is required for S phase completion in sea urchin egg.

PubMed ID: 16912079
Article link: J Cell Sci

Genes referenced: LOC100887844 LOC576066