During their development, mammalian oocytes acquire the ability to resume meiosis. We demonstrate that the concentration of p34cdc2 increases during the acquisition of meiotic competence, as determined by immunoblotting, whereas the concentration of cyclin B1 decreases. Laser-scanning confocal microscopy corroborated these changes and furthermore indicate that an increase occurs in the nuclear concentration of each protein. Results of immunoblotting experiments demonstrate that associated with the acquisition of meiotic competence is an increase in the concentration of cdc25C, an activator of p34cdc2/cyclin B kinase, and a decrease in wee1, an inhibitor of cdc2/cyclin B kinase. These changes were again corroborated by laser-scanning confocal microscopy, which also indicates that an increase in the nuclear concentration of wee1 occurs. The concentration of the transcripts encoding these proteins, however, is essentially similar in meiotically incompetent and competent oocytes. Thus, these changes in protein concentration that occur during oocyte development likely reflect changes in the translational efficiency of their mRNAs. Consistent with this is that the relative rate of synthesis of p34cdc2 in meiotically competent oocytes is approximately 3 times greater than that in meiotically incompetent oocytes, whereas the stability of newly synthesized p34cdc2 is essentially the same in each cell type.

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