Matrimony inhibits Polo kinase

Dec 04, 2007

Suspended animation is something we only associate with Sci Fi programs, but something remarkably similar actually occurs in unfertilized egg cells, in the ovaries of animals as different as humans and fruit flies. In an article published online this week in the open-access journal PLoS Biology, researchers from the Stowers Institute describe the two proteins that provide “Sleeping Beauty’s Kiss” to the long-dormant egg cells.

Unlike sperm, which are generated over the course of a man’s life, a girl is born with all the egg cells she will ever produce. The special cell division that creates sex cells (sperm and eggs) is called meiosis. During egg production, meiosis is paused part of the way through—a pause that, in humans, can last decades. Researchers in Scott Hawley’s lab at the Stowers Institute investigated the mechanism that brings eggs out of the paused state, using the fruit fly Drosophila as a model.

Youbin Xiang and colleagues identified two proteins crucial in controlling the pause in meiotic division. One protein, Polo kinase, is an enzyme that restarts the process of meiosis. However, it takes several days for enough Polo to build up. In the interim, a second protein called Matrimony binds to Polo and prevents it from working. Matrimony allows the egg cell to increase the amount of Polo until it is sufficient to force the cell through to the end of meiosis.

One question that arises from this work is just what destroys Matrimony at the crucial point. The paper suggests that this may be a threshold concentration of Polo, or else another, unidentified protein that targets Matrimony. As Polo kinase is strongly expressed in many types of tumor cells, identifying a specific inhibitor for this protein, such as Matrimony, may aid the development of drugs for treating cancer.

The work by Xiang et al. may also have long-term implications for humans, as understanding the process by which eggs are matured and released could have profound implications for treating infertility.

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Study finds cell division sign posts for chromosomes along microtubule highway

Related Stories

Polysis is marketing a plastic that turns to clay

19 minutes ago

Polysis is showing a plastic that can turn to clay when heated, according to a story on DigInfo TV. Polysis is described as a specialist developer of polyurethane resins and resin products, and they are marketing haplafreely, presented with a lower- ...

Wolfram's ID project launch touts ImageIdentify function

3 hours ago

You see a picture but you cannot name it. "What animal is this?" "Hmm, sort of looks like a guitar, not a cello—what is this instrument?" The Wolfram Language Identification Project was launched on Wednesday ...

Malaysian dam project opposed by tribes gets green light

3 hours ago

Construction of a Malaysian dam that will flood a rainforested area half the size of Singapore and displace 20,000 tribespeople was given the green light Saturday by the state government, local media reported.

Typhoon Dolphin looms over Guam

3 hours ago

Typhoon Dolphin passed through the Northern Marianas today just to the north of Guam with sustained winds estimated at 95 knots (~109 mph) by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). The center passed through ...

Recommended for you

Serengeti Park disappearing

3 hours ago

A huge wildebeest herd migrates across the open, parched plains. Dust swirls up from the many hooves pounding the ground, and forms a haze over the landscape. The setting sun gives the scene a golden tinge.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.