In eukaryotic cells, the Wee1 protein kinase phosphorylates and inhibits Cdc2, thereby creating an interphase of the cell cycle. In Xenopus, the conventional Wee1 homolog (termed Xe-Wee1A, or Wee1A for short) is maternally expressed and functions in pregastrula embryos with rapid cell cycles. Here, we have isolated a second, zygotic isoform of Xenopus Wee1, termed Xe-Wee1B (or Wee1B for short), that is expressed in postgastrula embryos and various adult tissues. When ectopically expressed in immature oocytes, Wee1B inhibits Cdc2 activity and oocyte maturation (or entry into M phase) much more strongly than Wee1A, due to its short C-terminal regulatory domain. Moreover, ectopic Wee1B, unlike Wee1A, is very labile during meiosis II and cannot accumulate in mature oocytes due to the presence of PEST-like sequences in its N-terminal regulatory domain. Finally, when expressed in fertilized eggs, ectopic Wee1B but not Wee1A does affect cell division and impair cell viability in early embryos, due primarily to its very strong kinase activity. These results suggest strongly that the differential expression of Wee1A and Wee1B is crucial for the developmental regulation of the cell cycle in Xenopus.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)