A lysosomal switch triggers proteostasis renewal in the immortal C. elegans germ lineage.
ABSTRACT: Although individuals age and die with time, an animal species can continue indefinitely, because of its immortal germ-cell lineage. How the germline avoids transmitting damage from one generation to the next remains a fundamental question in biology. Here we identify a lysosomal switch that enhances germline proteostasis before fertilization. We find that Caenorhabditis elegans oocytes whose maturation is arrested by the absence of sperm exhibit hallmarks of proteostasis collapse, including protein aggregation. Remarkably, sperm-secreted hormones re-establish oocyte proteostasis once fertilization becomes imminent. Key to this restoration is activation of the vacuolar H+-ATPase (V-ATPase), a proton pump that acidifies lysosomes. Sperm stimulate V-ATPase activity in oocytes by signalling the degradation of GLD-1, a translational repressor that blocks V-ATPase synthesis. Activated lysosomes, in turn, promote a metabolic shift that mobilizes protein aggregates for degradation, and reset proteostasis by enveloping and clearing the aggregates. Lysosome acidification also occurs during Xenopus oocyte maturation; thus, a lysosomal switch that enhances oocyte proteostasis in anticipation of fertilization may be conserved in other species.
Project description:Post-translational protein modification by ubiquitination, a signal for lysosomal or proteasomal proteolysis, can be regulated and reversed by deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs). This study examined the roles of UCHL1 and UCHL3, two members of ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase (UCH) family of DUBs, in murine fertilization and preimplantation development. Before fertilization, these proteins were associated with the oocyte cortex (UCHL1) and meiotic spindle (UCHL3). Intracytoplasmic injection of the general UCH-family inhibitor ubiquitin-aldehyde (UBAL) or antibodies against UCHL3 into mature metaphase II oocytes blocked fertilization by reducing sperm penetration of the zona pellucida and incorporation into the ooplasm, suggesting a role for cortical UCHL1 in sperm incorporation. Both UBAL and antibodies against UCHL1 injected at the onset of oocyte maturation (germinal vesicle stage) reduced the fertilizing ability of oocytes. The subfertile Uchl1(gad-/-) mutant mice showed an intriguing pattern of switched UCH localization, with UCHL3 replacing UCHL1 in the oocyte cortex. While fertilization defects were not observed, the embryos from homozygous Uchl1(gad-/-) mutant females failed to undergo morula compaction and did not form blastocysts in vivo, indicating a maternal effect related to UCHL1 deficiency. We conclude that the activity of oocyte UCHs contributes to fertilization and embryogenesis by regulating the physiology of the oocyte and blastomere cortex.
Project description:Fertility depends on germline stem cell proliferation, meiosis and gametogenesis, yet how these key transitions are coordinated is unclear. In C. elegans, we show that GLP-1/Notch signaling functions in the germline to modulate oocyte growth when sperm are available for fertilization and the major sperm protein (MSP) hormone is present. Reduction-of-function mutations in glp-1 cause oocytes to grow abnormally large when MSP is present and Galpha(s)-adenylate cyclase signaling in the gonadal sheath cells is active. By contrast, gain-of-function glp-1 mutations lead to the production of small oocytes. Surprisingly, proper oocyte growth depends on distal tip cell signaling involving the redundant function of GLP-1 ligands LAG-2 and APX-1. GLP-1 signaling also affects two cellular oocyte growth processes, actomyosin-dependent cytoplasmic streaming and oocyte cellularization. glp-1 reduction-of-function mutants exhibit elevated rates of cytoplasmic streaming and delayed cellularization. GLP-1 signaling in oocyte growth depends in part on the downstream function of the FBF-1/2 PUF RNA-binding proteins. Furthermore, abnormal oocyte growth in glp-1 mutants, but not the inappropriate differentiation of germline stem cells, requires the function of the cell death pathway. The data support a model in which GLP-1 function in MSP-dependent oocyte growth is separable from its role in the proliferation versus meiotic entry decision. Thus, two major germline signaling centers, distal GLP-1 activation and proximal MSP signaling, coordinate several spatially and temporally distinct processes by which germline stem cells differentiate into functional oocytes.
Project description:When a sperm and an oocyte unite upon fertilization, their cell membranes adhere and fuse, but little is known about the factors regulating sperm-oocyte adhesion. Here we explored the role of ?-catenin in sperm-oocyte adhesion. Biochemical analysis revealed that E-cadherin and ?-catenin formed a complex in oocytes and also in sperm. Sperm-oocyte adhesion was impaired when ?-catenin-deficient oocytes were inseminated with sperm. Furthermore, expression of ?-catenin decreased from the sperm head and the site of an oocyte to which a sperm adheres after completion of sperm-oocyte adhesion. UBE1-41, an inhibitor of ubiquitin-activating enzyme 1, inhibited the degradation of ?-catenin, and reduced the fusing ability of wild-type (but not ?-catenin-deficient) oocytes. These results indicate that ?-catenin is not only involved in membrane adhesion, but also in the transition to membrane fusion upon fertilization.
Project description:Soma-germline interactions control fertility at many levels, including stem cell proliferation, meiosis and gametogenesis, yet the nature of these fundamental signaling mechanisms and their potential evolutionary conservation are incompletely understood. In C. elegans, a sperm-sensing mechanism regulates oocyte meiotic maturation and ovulation, tightly coordinating sperm availability and fertilization. Sperm release the major sperm protein (MSP) signal to trigger meiotic resumption (meiotic maturation) and to promote contraction of the follicle-like gonadal sheath cells that surround oocytes. Using genetic mosaic analysis, we show that all known MSP-dependent meiotic maturation events in the germline require Galpha(s)-adenylate cyclase signaling in the gonadal sheath cells. We show that the MSP hormone promotes the sustained actomyosin-dependent cytoplasmic streaming that drives oocyte growth. Furthermore, we demonstrate that efficient oocyte production and cytoplasmic streaming require Galpha(s)-adenylate cyclase signaling in the gonadal sheath cells, thereby providing a somatic mechanism that coordinates oocyte growth and meiotic maturation with sperm availability. We present genetic evidence that MSP and Galpha(s)-adenylate cyclase signaling regulate oocyte growth and meiotic maturation in part by antagonizing gap-junctional communication between sheath cells and oocytes. In the absence of MSP or Galpha(s)-adenylate cyclase signaling, MSP binding sites are enriched and appear clustered on sheath cells. We discuss these results in the context of a model in which the sheath cells function as the major initial sensor of MSP, potentially via multiple classes of G-protein-coupled receptors. Our findings highlight a remarkable similarity between the regulation of meiotic resumption by soma-germline interactions in C. elegans and mammals.
Project description:In mammals, the inheritance of mitochondrion and its DNA (mtDNA) is strictly maternal, despite the fact that a sperm can inject up to 100 functional mitochondria into the oocyte during fertilization. The mechanisms responsible for the elimination of the paternal mitochondria remain largely unknown. We report here that this paternal mitochondrial elimination process is conserved in Caenorhabditis elegans, and that the lysosomal pathway actively participates in this process. Molecular and cell biological analyses indicate that in wild-type animals paternal mitochondria and mtDNA are destroyed within two hours after fertilization. In animals with compromised lysosomes, paternal mitochondria persist until late embryonic stages. Therefore, the lysosomal pathway plays an important role in degrading paternal mitochondria introduced into the oocyte during fertilization. Our study indicates that C. elegans is an excellent animal model for understanding and dissecting this conserved biological process critical for animal development and reproduction.
Project description:Fertilization is essential for species survival. Although Izumo1 and Juno are critical for initial interaction between gametes, additional molecules necessary for sperm:egg fusion on both the sperm and the oocyte remain to be defined. Here, we show that phosphatidylserine (PtdSer) is exposed on the head region of viable and motile sperm, with PtdSer exposure progressively increasing during sperm transit through the epididymis. Functionally, masking phosphatidylserine on sperm via three different approaches inhibits fertilization. On the oocyte, phosphatidylserine recognition receptors BAI1, CD36, Tim-4, and Mer-TK contribute to fertilization. Further, oocytes lacking the cytoplasmic ELMO1, or functional disruption of RAC1 (both of which signal downstream of BAI1/BAI3), also affect sperm entry into oocytes. Intriguingly, mammalian sperm could fuse with skeletal myoblasts, requiring PtdSer on sperm and BAI1/3, ELMO2, RAC1 in myoblasts. Collectively, these data identify phosphatidylserine on viable sperm and PtdSer recognition receptors on oocytes as key players in sperm:egg fusion.
Project description:Fertilization triggers rapid changes in intracellular free calcium that serve to activate multiple signaling events critical to the initiation of successful development. Among the pathways downstream of the fertilization-induced calcium transient is the calcium-calmodulin dependent protein tyrosine kinase PTK2b or PYK2 kinase. PTK2b plays an important role in fertilization of the zebrafish oocyte and the objective of the present study was to establish whether PTK2b also functions in mammalian fertilization. PTK2b was activated during the first few hours after fertilization of the mouse oocyte during the period when anaphase resumption was underway and prior to the pronuclear stage. Suppression of PTK2b kinase activity in oocytes blocked sperm incorporation and egg activation although sperm-oocyte binding was not affected. Oocytes that failed to incorporate sperm after inhibitor treatment showed no evidence of a calcium transient and no evidence of anaphase resumption suggesting that egg activation did not occur. The results indicate that PTK2b functions during the sperm-egg fusion process or during the physical incorporation of sperm into the egg cytoplasm and is therefore critical for successful development.
Project description:Artificial oocyte activation to overcome failed fertilization after intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in human oocytes typically employs Ca(2+) ionophores to produce a single cytosolic Ca(2+) increase. In contrast, recombinant phospholipase Czeta (PLC?) causes Ca(2+) oscillations indistinguishable from those occurring during fertilization, but remains untested for its efficacy in a scenario of ICSI fertilization failure. Here, we compare PLC? with other activation stimuli in a mouse model of failed oocyte activation after ICSI, in which heat-treated sperm are injected into mouse oocytes. We show that increasing periods of 56 °C exposure of sperm produces a progressive loss of Ca(2+) oscillations after ICSI. The decrease in Ca(2+) oscillations produces a reduction in oocyte activation and embryo development to the blastocyst stage. We treated such oocytes that failed to activate after ICSI either with Ca(2+) ionophore, or with Sr(2+) media which causes Ca(2+) oscillations, or we injected them with recombinant human PLC?. All these treatments rescued oocyte activation, although Sr(2+) and PLC? gave the highest rates of development to blastocyst. When recombinant PLC? was given to oocytes previously injected with control sperm, they developed normally to the blastocyst stage at rates similar to that after control ICSI. The data suggest that recombinant human PLC? protein is an efficient means of rescuing oocyte activation after ICSI failure and that it can be effectively used even if the sperm already contains endogenous Ca(2+) releasing activity.
Project description:Although it is believed that mammalian sperm carry small noncoding RNAs (sncRNAs) into oocytes during fertilization, it remains unknown whether these sperm-borne sncRNAs truly have any function during fertilization and preimplantation embryonic development. Germline-specific Dicer and Drosha conditional knockout (cKO) mice produce gametes (i.e. sperm and oocytes) partially deficient in miRNAs and/or endo-siRNAs, thus providing a unique opportunity for testing whether normal sperm (paternal) or oocyte (maternal) miRNA and endo-siRNA contents are required for fertilization and preimplantation development. Using the outcome of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) as a readout, we found that sperm with altered miRNA and endo-siRNA profiles could fertilize wild-type (WT) eggs, but embryos derived from these partially sncRNA-deficient sperm displayed a significant reduction in developmental potential, which could be rescued by injecting WT sperm-derived total or small RNAs into ICSI embryos. Disrupted maternal transcript turnover and failure in early zygotic gene activation appeared to associate with the aberrant miRNA profiles in Dicer and Drosha cKO spermatozoa. Overall, our data support a crucial function of paternal miRNAs and/or endo-siRNAs in the control of the transcriptomic homeostasis in fertilized eggs, zygotes and two-cell embryos. Given that supplementation of sperm RNAs enhances both the developmental potential of preimplantation embryos and the live birth rate, it might represent a novel means to improve the success rate of assisted reproductive technologies in fertility clinics.
Project description:PURPOSE: To analyze the fertilization process related to polyspermy block in human oocytes using an in vitro culturing system for time-lapse cinematography. METHODS: We had 122 oocytes donated for this study from couples that provided informed consent. We recorded human oocytes at 2,000 to 2,800 frames every 10 s during the fertilization process and thereafter every 2 min using a new in vitro culture system originally developed by the authors for time-lapse cinematography. We displayed 30 frames per second for analysis of the polyspermy block during fertilization. RESULTS: Three oocytes showed the leading and following sperm within the zona pellucida in the same microscopic field. The dynamic images obtained during the fertilization process using this new system revealed that once a leading sperm penetrated the zona pellucida and attached to the oocyte membrane, a following sperm was arrested from further penetration into the zona pellucida within 10 s. CONCLUSIONS: The present results strongly suggest the existence of a novel mechanism of polyspermy block that takes place at the zona pellucida immediately after fertilization. These findings are clearly different from previous mechanisms describing polyspermy block as the oocyte membrane block to sperm penetration and the zona reaction. The finding presented herein thus represents a novel discovery about the highly complicated polyspermy block mechanism occurring in human oocytes.