In many animals, oocytes enter meiosis early in their development but arrest in meiotic prophase I. Oocyte growth, which occurs during this arrest period, enables the acquisition of meiotic competence and the capacity to produce healthy progeny. Meiotic resumption, or meiotic maturation, involves the transition to metaphase I (M phase) and is regulated by intercellular signaling and cyclin-dependent kinase activation. Premature meiotic maturation would be predicted to diminish fertility as the timing of this event, which normally occurs after oocyte growth is complete, is crucial. In the accompanying article in this issue, we identify the highly conserved TRIM-NHL protein LIN-41 as a translational repressor that copurifies with OMA-1 and OMA-2, RNA-binding proteins redundantly required for normal oocyte growth and meiotic maturation. In this article, we show that LIN-41 enables the production of high-quality oocytes and plays an essential role in controlling and coordinating oocyte growth and meiotic maturation. lin-41 null mutants display a striking defect that is specific to oogenesis: pachytene-stage cells cellularize prematurely and fail to progress to diplotene. Instead, these cells activate CDK-1, enter M phase, assemble spindles, and attempt to segregate chromosomes. Translational derepression of the CDK-1 activator CDC-25.3 appears to contribute to premature M-phase entry in lin-41 mutant oocytes. Genetic and phenotypic analyses indicate that LIN-41 and OMA-1/2 exhibit an antagonistic relationship, and we suggest that translational regulation by these proteins could be important for controlling and coordinating oocyte growth and meiotic maturation.
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© 2014 by the Genetics Society of America.