The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 39: 401 - 407 (1995)

Vol 39, Issue 2

Thimerosal triggers meiosis reinitiation in oocytes of the Japanese clam Ruditapes philippinarum by eliciting an intracellular Ca2+ surge

Published: 1 April 1995

M Lippai, I Gobet, M Tomkowiak, Y Durocher, C Leclerc, M Moreau and P Guerrier

Laboratoire de Biologie moléculaire et cellulaire, UMR 49, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France.


Ovarian oocytes of the bivalve mollusc Ruditapes philippinarum are arrested during first meiotic prophase. Release from this blockade is triggered by the neurohormone serotonin (5HT or 5-hydroxytryptamine), which promotes germinal vesicle breakdown and drives these oocytes to a second arrest in metaphase I. 5HT action involves binding to a specific G protein-coupled receptor which results in a transient rise in IP3 and in the intracellular free Ca2+ concentration. Here we analyze the cytological effects and mode of action of the sulphydryl reagent thimerosal which could also trigger meiosis reinitiation in Ruditapes. No metaphase I spindle formed under these conditions since thimerosal was found to be able to preclude or reverse tubulin polymerization when applied to prophase- or to metaphase-arrested oocytes, respectively. Our results strongly suggest that the common final target for 5HT and thimerosal actions consists in a transient rise in internal free Ca2+ level that we could follow using Fluo3/AM as a probe. The effect of thimerosal in promoting oocyte maturation and increasing intracellular free Ca2+ concentration was improved by excess KCI. In addition, thimerosal, but not KCI, was found to facilitate 5HT-induced maturation at subthreshold hormone concentrations which, by themselves, did not produce an intracellular Ca2+ surge. These data suggest that thimerosal may inhibit Ca2+ pumps of the endoplasmic reticulum and unmask the plasma membrane voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channels which also appear after 5HT-induced GVBD.

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