Author(s): Russo GL
In all vertebrates, mature oocytes arrest at the metaphase of the II meiotic division, while some invertebrates arrest at metaphase-I, others at prophase-I. Fertilization induces completion of meiosis and entry into the first mitotic division. Several experimental models have been considered from both vertebrates and invertebrates in order to shed light on the peculiar aspects of meiotic division, such as the regulation of the cytostatic factor (CSF) and the maturation promoting factor (MPF) in metaphase I or II. Recently, we proposed the oocytes of ascidian Ciona intestinalis as a new model to study the meiotic division. Here, taking advantage of the recent publication of the C. intestinalis genome, we presented a phylogenetic analysis of key molecular components of the CSF-related machinery. We showed that the Mos/MAP kinase pathway is perfectly conserved in ascidians. We demonstrated the presence of a CSF-like activity in metaphase-I arrested C. intestinalis oocytes able to block cell division in two-cell embryos. We further investigated the regulation of CSF by demonstrating that both CSF and MPF inactivation, at the exit of metaphase-I, are independent from protein synthesis, indicating the absence of short-lived factors that regulate metaphase stability, as in other invertebrate species. The results obtained suggest that meiotic regulation in C. intestinalis resembles that of vertebrates, such as Xenopus accordingly to the position of this organism in the evolutionary tree.