During mammalian oocyte growth, genomic DNA may accumulate DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) induced by factors such as reactive oxygen species. Recent evidence demonstrated that slight DSBs do not activate DNA damage checkpoint proteins in denuded oocytes. These oocytes, even with DNA DSBs, can resume meiosis and progress to metaphase of meiosis II. Meiotic resumption in oocytes is also controlled by the surrounding cumulus cells; accordingly, we analyzed whether cumulus-cell enclosed oocytes (CEOs) with DNA damage are able to resume meiosis. Compared with DNA-damaged denuded oocytes, we found that meiotic resumption rates of CEOs significantly decreased. To assess the mechanism by which cumulus cells block meiotic resumption in CEOs with DNA DSBs, we treated the cumulus oocyte complex with the gap junction inhibitor carbenoxolone and found that carbenoxolone can rescue the block in CEO meiosis induced by DNA DSBs. Since cumulus cell-synthesized cAMPs can pass through the gap junctions between oocyte and cumulus cell to block oocyte meiosis, we measured the expression levels of adenylate cyclase 1 (Adcy1) in cumulus cells, and G-protein coupled receptor 3 (Gpr3) and phosphodiesterase 3A (Pde3a) in oocytes, and found that the mRNA expression level of Adcy1 increased significantly in DNA-damaged cumulus cells. In conclusion, our results indicate that DNA DSBs promote cAMP synthesis in cumulus cells, and cumulus cAMPs can inhibit meiotic resumption of CEOs through gap junctions.
Sun, M. H., Zheng, J., Xie, F. Y., Shen, W., Yin, S., & Ma, J. Y. (2015). Cumulus cells block oocyte meiotic resumption via gap junctions in cumulus oocyte complexes subjected to DNA double-strand breaks. PLoS ONE, 10(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0143223