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Oogenesis pp 253-264 | Cite as

Oocyte Polarity and Its Developmental Significance

  • Anna AjdukEmail author
  • Agnieszka Jedrusik
  • Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz
Chapter

Abstract

Establishment of the animal-vegetal (AV) axis is one of the most important events of meiotic maturation in mammalian oocytes, as it extensively affects further embryonic development. Initially, in prophase of the first meiotic division (ProI), an oocyte is radially symmetric, with a nucleus localized in the cell centre. After resumption of meiosis, metaphase I (MetI) spindle is moved from the central position towards the cortex, marking an animal pole of the oocyte. Translocation of the meiotic spindle depends on actin cytoskeleton and leads to an extensive reorganization of the animal cortex, an event regulated by complex molecular pathways. Asymmetric localization of the oocyte chromatin is maintained in the metaphase II (Met II) stage. Migration of the spindle to the cortex ensures that both meiotic divisions occur in an asymmetric manner giving rise to small polar bodies and the big egg cell containing most of the maternal factors stored during oogenesis. Moreover, cortical reorganization caused by translocation of the oocyte chromatin prevents egg-sperm fusion in the vicinity of the animal pole and in consequence precocious mixing of maternal and paternal chromosomes that could disturb proper segregation of genetic material during the second meiotic division. Finally, recent research provides evidence that the AV axis formed in the oocyte may influence embryonic fate of the blastomeres, as cells containing either animal or vegetal components are differentially predisposed. We would like to present here the current stage of knowledge regarding molecular mechanism of AV axis formation in mammalian oocytes and developmental significance of this process.

Keywords

Mammalian oocyte Mouse Polarity Actin Spindle Microvilli Meiosis Fertilization Animal/vegetal axis Developmental potential 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Ajduk
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Agnieszka Jedrusik
    • 2
  • Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Embryology, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of WarsawWarsawPoland
  2. 2.The Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research Gurdon InstituteUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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