Indexed on: 22 Jul '06Published on: 22 Jul '06Published in: Journal of Biological Chemistry
In the present study, we characterized a sterile cpi-2a(ok1256) deletion mutant in Caenorhabditis elegans and showed that CPI-2a has an essential regulatory role during oogenesis and fertilization. We have also shown that the CPI2a inhibitor and both Ce-CPL-1 and Ce-CPZ-1 enzymes are present in the myoepithelial sheath surrounding germ cells, oocytes, and embryos as well as in the yolk granules within normal oocytes. Staining of mutant worms with anti-yolk protein antibodies has indicted that the proteins are not present in the mature oocytes. Moreover, green fluorescent protein expression was absence or reduced in cpi-2a/yp170:gfp mutant oocytes, although it was expressed in one of the successfully developed embryos. Based on these results, we hypothesize that the sterility in cpi-2a(ok1256) mutant worms is potentially caused by two possible mechanisms: 1) defects in the uptake and/or processing of yolk proteins by the growing oocytes and 2) indirect induction of defects in cell-cell signaling that is critical for promoting germ line development, oocyte maturation, ovulation, and fertilization. A defect in any of these processes would have detrimental effects on the development of normal embryos and consequently normal production of progenies as we observed in cpi-2a mutant worms. This is the first study that demonstrates the expression of cysteine proteases and their endogenous inhibitor in the gonadal sheath cells surrounding germ cells and oocytes, which indirectly have established their potential involvement in proteolytic processing of molecules within the gonadal sheath cells, such as components of the extracellular matrix or the cytoskeletal proteins, which are essential for proper cell-cell signaling activities of the gonadal sheath cells during normal maturation and ovulation processes.