Mature mammalian eggs are ovulated arrested at meiotic metaphase II. Sperm break this arrest by an oscillatory Ca2+ signal that is necessary and sufficient for the two immediate events of egg activation: cell cycle resumption and cortical granule release. Previous work has suggested that cell cycle resumption, but not cortical granule release, is mediated by calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CamKII). Here we find that mouse eggs contain detectable levels of only one CamKII isoform, gamma 3. Antisense morpholino knockdown of CamKIIγ3 during oocyte maturation produces metaphase II eggs that are insensitive to parthenogenetic activation by Ca2+ stimulation and insemination. The effect is specific to this morpholino, as a 5-base-mismatch morpholino is without effect, and is rescued by CamKIIγ3 or constitutively active CamKII cRNAs. Although CamKII-morpholino-treated eggs fail to exit metaphase II arrest, cortical granule exocytosis is not blocked. Therefore, CamKIIγ3 plays a necessary and sufficient role in transducing the oscillatory Ca2+ signal into cell cycle resumption, but not into cortical granule release.
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