G2-phase-arrested immature starfish oocytes contain inactive cdc2 kinase and cdc25 phosphatase, and an inactivator for cdc2 kinase. In this system, we have studied how the regulatory balance is apped toward the initial activation of cdc2 kinase. During the hormone-dependent period (Guerrier, P., and M. Doree, 1975. Dev. Biol. 47:341-348), p34cdc2 and cdc25 protein are already converted, though not fully, to active forms, whereas the inactivators for cdc2 kinase and cdc25 phosphatase are able to exhibit their activities if the hormone were removed. We produced "triggered oocytes," in which due to a neutralizing anticdc25 antibody, the activation of cdc2 kinase is prevented out cdc25 protein is phosphorylated slightly after the maturation-inducing hormonal stimulus. In contrast to control immature oocytes, in triggered oocytes the injected cdc2 kinase is not inactivated, and accordingly the level of cdc2 kinase activity required for meiosis reinitiation is much less. These results imply the presence of a cdc2 kinase activity-independent process(es) that suppresses the inactivator for cdc2 kinase and initially phosphorylates cdc25 protein, although this process is reversible during the initial activation of cdc2 kinase. At the most initial triggering of M-phase, the cdc2 kinase activity-independent process might trip the switch leading to the initial activation of cdc2 kinase. Thereafter, in parallel, the cdc2 kinase-dependent feedback loops described by others may cause further increase in cdc2 kinase activity. We propose that a putative suppressor, which downregulates the inactivator for cdc2 kinase independently of nuclear components, might be a previously unrecognized component of maturation-promoting factor.

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