Plk4 and Aurora A cooperate in the initiation of acentriolar spindle assembly in mammalian oocytes

04 Oct 2017

Establishing the bipolar spindle in mammalian oocytes after their prolonged arrest is crucial for meiotic fidelity and subsequent development. In contrast to somatic cells, the first meiotic spindle assembles in the absence of centriole-containing centrosomes. Ran-GTP can promote microtubule nucleation near chromatin, but additional unidentified factors are postulated for the activity of multiple acentriolar microtubule organizing centers in the oocyte. We now demonstrate that partially overlapping, nonredundant functions of Aurora A and Plk4 kinases contribute to initiate acentriolar meiosis I spindle formation. Loss of microtubule nucleation after simultaneous chemical inhibition of both kinases can be significantly rescued by drug-resistant Aurora A alone. Drug-resistant Plk4 can enhance Aurora A–mediated rescue, and, accordingly, Plk4 can phosphorylate and potentiate the activity of Aurora A in vitro. Both kinases function distinctly from Ran, which amplifies microtubule growth. We conclude that Aurora A and Plk4 are rate-limiting factors contributing to microtubule growth as the acentriolar oocyte resumes meiosis.