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Nature. 2005 Oct 13;437(7061):1048-52. Epub 2005 Aug 28.

Calcium triggers exit from meiosis II by targeting the APC/C inhibitor XErp1 for degradation.

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  • 1Chemical Biology, Independent Research Group, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Am Klopferspitz 18, D-82152 Martinsried, Germany.


Vertebrate eggs awaiting fertilization are arrested at metaphase of meiosis II by a biochemical activity termed cytostatic factor (CSF). This activity inhibits the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C), a ubiquitin ligase that triggers anaphase onset and mitotic/meiotic exit by targeting securin and M-phase cyclins for destruction. On fertilization a transient rise in free intracellular calcium causes release from CSF arrest and thus APC/C activation. Although it has previously been shown that calcium induces the release of APC/C from CSF inhibition through calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), the relevant substrates of this kinase have not been identified. Recently, we characterized XErp1 (Emi2), an inhibitor of the APC/C and key component of CSF activity in Xenopus egg extract. Here we show that calcium-activated CaMKII triggers exit from meiosis II by sensitizing the APC/C inhibitor XErp1 for polo-like kinase 1 (Plx1)-dependent degradation. Phosphorylation of XErp1 by CaMKII leads to the recruitment of Plx1 that in turn triggers the destruction of XErp1 by phosphorylating a site known to serve as a phosphorylation-dependent degradation signal. These results provide a molecular explanation for how the fertilization-induced calcium increase triggers exit from meiosis II.

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