To improve developmental competence of in vitro matured oocytes, culture medium can be supplemented with hypoxanthine (Hx) and FSH or epidermal growth factor (EGF) to trigger the activation of essential signalling pathways regulating meiotic resumption and progression. Since the serine/threonine kinase, Akt, contributes to the regulation of the meiotic cell cycle, this study analysed its expression level and localization at the meiotic spindle in oocytes matured in vivo or in vitro in the presence of Hx-FSH or Hx-EGF. Independently of culture conditions adopted, Akt mRNA concentration did not vary from germinal vesicle to metaphase I (MI), while at MII a significant decrease in Akt1 mRNA concentration was recorded in oocytes matured in vivo and in those stimulated by Hx-EGF (P < 0.05). Phoshorylated Akt protein content was similar in the different groups of MI oocytes, but it decreased at MII in oocytes matured either in vivo or in vitro with Hx-EGF. Ser-473-phosphorylated Akt was localized uniformly to the meiotic spindle in more than 90% of oocytes. These results indicate that, in mouse oocytes, Akt expression is differentially regulated during in vivo and in vitro maturation and suggest that EGF could be a positive modulator, even stronger than FSH, of oocyte meiotic maturation
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