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A Dynamical Model of Oocyte Maturation Unveils Precisely Orchestrated Meiotic Decisions

PLoS Computational Biology
Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002329
  • Research Article
  • Biology


Author Summary In the life cycle of sexual organisms, a specialized cell division -meiosis- reduces the number of chromosomes in gametes or spores while fertilization or mating restores the original number. The essential feature that distinguishes meiosis from mitosis (the usual division) is the succession of two rounds of division following a single DNA replication, as well as the arrest at the second division in the case of oocyte maturation. The fact that meiosis and mitosis are similar but different raises several interesting questions: What is the meiosis-specific dynamics of cell-cycle regulators? Are there mechanisms which guarantee the occurence of two and only two rounds of division despite the presence of intrinsic and extrinsic noises ? The study of a model of the molecular network that underlies the meiotic maturation process in Xenopus oocytes provides unexpected answers to these questions. On the one hand, the modular organization of this network ensures separate controls of the first and second divisions. On the other hand, regulatory synergies ensure that these two stages are precisely and reliably sequenced during meiosis. We conclude that cells have evolved a sophisticated regulatory network to achieve a robust, albeit flexible, meiotic dynamics.

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