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Role of cyclic AMP in the maturation of Ciona intestinalis oocytes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2010

Francesco Silvestre
Animal Physiology and Evolution Laboratory, Stazione Zoologica “Anton Dohrn”, Villa Comunale, 80121–Naples, Italy
Alessandra Gallo
Animal Physiology and Evolution Laboratory, Stazione Zoologica “Anton Dohrn”, Villa Comunale, 80121–Naples, Italy
Annunziata Cuomo
Animal Physiology and Evolution Laboratory, Stazione Zoologica “Anton Dohrn”, Villa Comunale, 80121–Naples, Italy
Tiziana Covino
Animal Physiology and Evolution Laboratory, Stazione Zoologica “Anton Dohrn”, Villa Comunale, 80121–Naples, Italy
Elisabetta Tosti*
Animal Physiology and Evolution Laboratory, Stazione Zoologica “Anton Dohrn”, Villa Comunale, 80121–Naples, Italy.
All correspondence to: Elisabetta Tosti, Animal Physiology and Evolution Laboratory, Stazione Zoologica “Anton Dohrn”, Villa Comunale, 80121–Naples, Italy. Tel: +39 081 5833288. Fax: +39 081 7641355. e-mail:


Immature oocytes are arrested at prophase I of the meiotic process and maturation onset is indicated by oocyte nuclear disassembly (germinal vesicle breakdown or GVBD). Signaling pathways that elevate intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) may either prevent or induce oocyte maturation depending on the species. In some marine invertebrates and, in particular, in ascidian oocytes, cAMP triggers GVBD rather than blocking it. In this paper, we tested different cAMP elevators in fully grown oocytes at the germinal vesicle stage (GV) of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis. We demonstrated that through the activation of adenylate cyclase or the inhibition and phosphodiesterases the oocyte remained at the GV stage. This effect was reversible as the GV-arrested oocytes, rinsed and incubated in sea water, are able to undergo spontaneous maturation and extrusion of follicle cells. In addition, oocytes acquire the ability to be fertilized and start early development. However, morphology of follicle cells, embryos and larvae from in vitro matured oocytes showed different morphology from those derived from in vivo mature oocytes. The role and the transduction mechanism of cAMP in the regulation of oocyte maturation were discussed. Finally, we indicated a variation of biological mechanisms present in the ascidian species; moreover, we sustain evidence proving that tunicates share some biological mechanisms with vertebrates. This information provided new hints on the importance of ascidians in the evolution of chordates.

Research Article
Zygote , Volume 19 , Issue 4 , November 2011 , pp. 365 - 371
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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