Reproduction depends on the generation of healthy oocytes. Improving therapeutic strategies to prolong or rescue fertility depends on identifying the inter- and intracellular mechanisms that direct oocyte development under physiological conditions. Growth and proliferation of multiple cell types is regulated by the Hippo signaling pathway, whose chief effectors are the transcriptional co-activator YAP and its paralogue WWTR1. To resolve conflicting results concerning the potential role of Hippo in mammalian oocyte development, we systematically investigated the expression and localization of YAP in mouse oocytes. We report that that YAP is expressed in the germ cells beginning as early as Embryonic Day 15.5 and subsequently throughout pre- and postnatal oocyte development. However, YAP is restricted to the cytoplasm at all stages. YAP is phosphorylated at serine-112 in growing and fully grown oocytes, identifying a likely mechanistic basis for its nuclear exclusion, and becomes dephosphorylated at this site during meiotic maturation. Phosphorylation at serine-112 is regulated by a mechanism dependent on cyclic AMP and protein kinase A, which is known to be active in oocytes prior to maturation. Growing oocytes also contain a subpopulation of YAP, likely dephosphorylated, that is able enter the oocyte nucleus, but it is not retained there, implying that oocytes lack the cofactors required to retain YAP in the nucleus. Thus, although YAP is expressed throughout oocyte development, phosphorylation-dependent and -independent mechanisms cooperate to ensure that it does not accumulate in the nucleus. We conclude that nuclear YAP does not play a significant physiological role during oocyte development in mammals.
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Vol. 94 • No. 5