The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47: 327 - 333 (2003)

Vol 47, Issue 5

Ca2+-independent protein kinase C signalling in mouse eggs during the early phases of fertilization

Published: 1 June 2003

Carla Tatone, Simona Delle Monache, Antonella Francione, Luisa Gioia, Barbara Barboni and Rosella Colonna

Dept. of Biomedical Sciences and Technologies, University of L'Aquila, Italy.


Protein kinase C (PKC), an enzyme playing a central role in signal transduction pathways, is activated in fertilized mouse eggs downstream of the fertilization Ca2+ signal, to regulate different aspects of egg activation. Given the presence of Ca2+-independent PKC isoforms within the egg, we investigated whether fertilization triggers PKC stimulation in mouse eggs by activating Ca2+-independent signalling pathways. An increase in PKC activity was detected as early as 10 min after the beginning of insemination, when about 90% of eggs had fused with sperm and the first Ca2+ rise was evident in most of the eggs. A similar level of activity was found 20 min later, when about 60% of eggs had resumed meiosis. When the Ca2+ increase was buffered by an intracellular Ca2+ chelating agent, PKC stimulation was not blocked but only slightly reduced. Confocal microscopy analysis revealed that the increase in PKC activity at fertilization coincided with the translocation of PKCdelta, a Ca2+-independent and diacylglycerol-dependent PKC isoform, to the meiotic spindle. When, in the absence of the Ca2+ signal, metaphase-anaphase transition was inhibited, PKCdelta moved to the meiotic spindle but still maintained a sustained cytoplasmic distribution. In summary, our results indicate that: 1) PKC activation is an early event of egg activation; 2) both Ca2+-dependent and Ca2+-independent pathways contribute to increased PKC activity at fertilization; 3) PKCdelta is one of the isoforms participating in this signalling process.

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