What Triggers The Resumption Of Meiosis In A Primary Oocyte?

What triggers the resumption of meiosis in a primary oocyte?

Meiosis is a crucial process in sexual reproduction that results in the formation of gametes, or reproductive cells, with half the number of chromosomes as the parent cell. In females, meiosis occurs in the primary oocytes, which are immature eggs that are arrested in prophase I of meiosis I. The resumption of meiosis in a primary oocyte is triggered by various factors that create the right environment for the oocyte to continue through meiosis I and meiosis II. Let’s explore what these triggers are and how they contribute to the successful completion of meiosis in a primary oocyte.

Maturation promoting factor (MPF)

One of the key factors responsible for initiating the resumption of meiosis in a primary oocyte is a complex called Maturation Promoting Factor (MPF). MPF is a cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) complex composed of cyclin B and cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1). It is synthesized and accumulated during the meiotic arrest in prophase I.

The role of MPF in the resumption of meiosis

MPF plays a crucial role in triggering the resumption of meiosis by phosphorylating various proteins involved in cell cycle regulation. When the levels of MPF reach a critical threshold, it promotes the transition from prophase I to metaphase I of meiosis. This transition is marked by the breakdown of the nuclear envelope, condensation of chromosomes, and formation of the meiotic spindle.

Activation of MPF

The activation of MPF is regulated by the phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of its components. In the presence of high levels of cyclin B and low levels of inhibitory phosphorylation, CDK1 is active, resulting in the activation of MPF. This activation is further regulated by the controlled degradation of cyclin B through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. The degradation of cyclin B leads to the inactivation of MPF, allowing the oocyte to progress to anaphase I and complete meiosis I.

Surge of luteinizing hormone (LH)

Another trigger for the resumption of meiosis in a primary oocyte is the surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) that occurs during the menstrual cycle. LH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, and its surge results in the release of the mature egg from the ovary, a process known as ovulation.

The role of LH in oocyte maturation

When the levels of LH surge, they bind to specific receptors on the granulosa cells surrounding the primary oocyte. This binding leads to the activation of signaling pathways within the granulosa cells and subsequent changes in gene expression. As a result, the granulosa cells produce factors such as prostaglandins and epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like factors that act on the oocyte.

Effects of LH on the oocyte

The factors produced by the granulosa cells under the influence of LH have various effects on the oocyte. They can induce the breakdown of the gap junctions between the oocyte and surrounding granulosa cells, allowing for the exchange of molecules. Additionally, these factors can activate mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway in the oocyte, leading to the further activation of MPF and resumption of meiosis.

Intracellular signaling pathways

In addition to the surge of LH, several intracellular signaling pathways play crucial roles in triggering the resumption of meiosis in a primary oocyte.

Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) pathway

The cAMP pathway is involved in maintaining the meiotic arrest in prophase I. The high levels of cAMP in the oocyte keep MPF in an inactive state by preventing the dephosphorylation of inhibitory sites on CDK1. However, upon the LH surge, factors such as EGF-like growth factors activate the cAMP-specific phosphodiesterase (PDE3A). This enzyme hydrolyzes cAMP, leading to reduced levels of cAMP and subsequent activation of MPF.

Calcium signaling

Calcium signaling is another key pathway involved in meiotic resumption. It is triggered by the release of calcium from intracellular stores called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in response to the LH surge. The increased intracellular calcium levels activate various calcium-dependent enzymes, including calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), which then phosphorylates proteins involved in meiotic resumption.


The resumption of meiosis in a primary oocyte is a complex process that involves the interplay of various triggers and signaling pathways. The presence of maturation promoting factors, such as MPF, and the surge of luteinizing hormone (LH), along with the activation of intracellular signaling pathways, are essential for the successful progression of meiosis. Understanding these triggers and pathways not only provides insights into reproductive biology but also has implications for assisted reproductive technologies and fertility treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can the resumption of meiosis in a primary oocyte be artificially induced?

Yes, the resumption of meiosis in a primary oocyte can be artificially induced in a laboratory setting. This is often done for assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or pre-implantation genetic testing. Various techniques, such as the use of specific media compositions or the administration of hormones, can be employed to mimic the triggers that occur naturally in the female reproductive system.

Q: What happens if the resumption of meiosis is disrupted?

Disruptions in the resumption of meiosis can lead to various fertility-related issues. For example, if meiosis is not properly resumed, the primary oocyte may fail to complete meiosis I or meiosis II, resulting in chromosomal abnormalities in the resulting gametes. This can increase the risk of miscarriages or birth defects. Understanding the triggers and factors involved in meiotic resumption can help in identifying and addressing potential issues in fertility treatments.

Final Thoughts

The resumption of meiosis in a primary oocyte is a finely regulated process that involves multiple triggers and signaling pathways. The interplay between factors like maturation promoting factors, LH surge, and intracellular signaling pathways ensures the successful progression of meiosis. Further research into these triggers and pathways can deepen our understanding of reproductive biology and pave the way for advancements in fertility treatments and reproductive technologies.

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