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: No returning to Eden: Researchers explore how to restore species in a changing world

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ex-Qualcomm exec pleads guilty to insider trading

5 hours ago

A former high-ranking executive of US computer chip giant Qualcomm pleaded guilty Monday to insider trading charges, including trades on a 2011 deal for Atheros Communications, officials said.

Media venture creates press litigation fund

6 hours ago

The media venture created by entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar said Monday it was establishing a fund to help defend journalists in cases involving freedom of the press.

'Moral victories' might spare you from losing again

6 hours ago

It's human nature to hate losing. Unfortunately, it's also human nature to overreact to a loss, potentially abandoning a solid strategy and thus increasing your chances of losing the next time around.

Recommended for you

Study indicates large raptors in Africa used for bushmeat

10 hours ago

Bushmeat, the use of native animal species for food or commercial food sale, has been heavily documented to be a significant factor in the decline of many species of primates and other mammals. However, a new study indicates ...

The microbes make the sake brewery

11 hours ago

A sake brewery has its own microbial terroir, meaning the microbial populations found on surfaces in the facility resemble those found in the product, creating the final flavor according to research published ahead of print ...

Fighting bacteria—with viruses

12 hours ago

Research published today in PLOS Pathogens reveals how viruses called bacteriophages destroy the bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. diff), which is becoming a serious problem in hospitals and healthcare institutes, due to its re ...

User comments : 0