An extended meiotic prophase is a hallmark of oogenesis. Hormonal signaling activates the CDK1/cyclin B kinase to promote oocyte meiotic maturation, which involves nuclear and cytoplasmic events. Nuclear maturation encompasses nuclear envelope breakdown, meiotic spindle assembly, and chromosome segregation. Cytoplasmic maturation involves major changes in oocyte protein translation and cytoplasmic organelles and is poorly understood. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, sperm release the major sperm protein (MSP) hormone to promote oocyte growth and meiotic maturation. Large translational regulatory ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes containing the RNA-binding proteins OMA-1, OMA-2, and LIN-41 regulate meiotic maturation downstream of MSP signaling. To understand the control of translation during meiotic maturation, we purified LIN-41-containing RNPs and characterized their protein and RNA components. Protein constituents of LIN-41 RNPs include essential RNA-binding proteins, the GLD-2 cytoplasmic poly(A) polymerase, the CCR4-NOT deadenylase complex, and translation initiation factors. RNA sequencing defined messenger RNAs (mRNAs) associated with both LIN-41 and OMA-1, as well as sets of mRNAs associated with either LIN-41 or OMA-1. Genetic and genomic evidence suggests that GLD-2, which is a component of LIN-41 RNPs, stimulates the efficient translation of many LIN-41-associated transcripts. We analyzed the translational regulation of two transcripts specifically associated with LIN-41 which encode the RNA regulators SPN-4 and MEG-1. We found that LIN-41 represses translation of spn-4 and meg-1, whereas OMA-1 and OMA-2 promote their expression. Upon their synthesis, SPN-4 and MEG-1 assemble into LIN-41 RNPs prior to their functions in the embryo. This study defines a translational repression-to-activation switch as a key element of cytoplasmic maturation.
- Cytoplasmic polyadenylation
- Oocyte meiotic maturation
- Ribonucleoprotein particle purification
- RNA-binding proteins
- Translational regulation