Casein kinase I is a family of serine/threonine protein kinases common to all eukaryotes. In yeast, casein kinase I homologues have been linked to the regulation of growth, DNA repair and cell division. In addition, their subcellular localization to membraneous structures and the nucleus is essential for function. In higher eukaryotes, there exist seven genetically distinct isoforms: (alpha), ss, (gamma)1, (gamma)2, (gamma)3, (delta) and (epsilon). Casein kinase I(alpha) exhibits a cell cycle-dependent subcellular localization including an association with cytosolic vesicular structures and the nucleus during interphase, and the spindle during mitosis. casein kinase I has also been shown to modulate critical regulators of growth and DNA synthesis/repair in mammalian cells such as SV40 large T antigen and p53. These results suggest that casein kinase I may be involved in processes similar to those ascribed to the yeast casein kinase I homologues. To define a role for casein kinase I(alpha) in cell cycle regulation, the mouse oocyte was utilized because of its well-defined cell cycle and ease of micromanipulation. Immunofluorescence studies from meiosis I of maturation to the first zygotic cleavage demonstrated that the kinase was associated with structures similar to those previously reported. Microinjection of casein kinase I(alpha) antibodies at metaphase II-arrest and G2 phase, had no effect on the completion of second meiosis or first division. However, microinjection of these antibodies during the early pronucleate phase prior to S-phase onset blocked uptake of the kinase into pronuclei and interfered with proper and timely cell cycle progression to first cleavage. These results suggest that the kinase regulates the progression from interphase to mitosis during the first cell cycle.

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