Mouse oocytes at metaphase I were treated with puromycin, which caused the chromosomes to become decondensed within an interphase nucleus. When the oocytes were allowed to resume protein synthesis, they returned to metaphase within 8–10 h and neither synthesized DNA nor cleaved, indicating that they had not been parthenogenetically activated by the puromycin treatment. However, when dibutyryl cyclic AMP was added to the medium after protein synthesis resumed, the oocytes remained in interphase. These oocytes maintained in interphase began DNA synthesis beginning 20 h after puromycin withdrawal, even though no activation stimulus had been given to them. After transfer to the oviducts of foster mothers, the oocytes could develop to the blastocyst stage. These results indicate that oocytes whose chromosomes were decondensed by puromycin treatment at metaphase I could begin parthenogenetic development in the absence of an activating stimulus, provided that they were prevented from returning to metaphase. In contrast, when the puromycin-treated oocytes were allowed to return to metaphase, they became developmentally arrested at the end of maturation. This suggests that the mechanism responsible for the developmental arrest of mature oocytes at metaphase II depends on cytoplasmic conditions that cause chromosome condensation to the metaphase state.

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