The MAPK pathway triggers activation of Nek2 during chromosome condensation in mouse spermatocytes

Silvia Di Agostino, Pellegrino Rossi, Raffaele Geremia, Claudio Sette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chromosome condensation during the G2/M progression of mouse pachytene spermatocytes induced by the phosphatase inhibitor okadaic acid (OA) requires the activation of the MAPK Erk1. In many cell systems, p90Rsks are the main effectors of Erk1/2 function. We have identified p90Rsk2 as the isoform that is specifically expressed in mouse spermatocytes and have shown that it is activated during the OA-triggered meiotic G2/M progression. By using the MEK inhibitor U0126, we have demonstrated that activation of p90Rsk2 during meiotic progression requires activation of the MAPK pathway. Immunofluorescence analysis indicates that activated Erks and p90Rsk2 are tightly associated with condensed chromosomes during the G2/M transition in meiotic cells. We also found that active p90Rsk2 was able to phosphorylate histone H3 at Ser10 in vitro, but that the activation of the Erk1/p90Rsk2 pathway was not necessary for phosphorylation of H3 in vivo. Furthermore, phosphorylation of H3 was not sufficient to cause condensation of meiotic chromosomes in mouse spermatocytes. Other proteins known to associate with chromatin may represent effectors of Erk1 and p90Rsk2 during chromosome condensation. Nek2 (NIMA-related kinase 2), which associates with chromosomes, plays an active role in chromatin condensation and is stimulated by treatment of pachytene spermatocytes with okadaic acid. We show that inhibition of the MAPK pathway by preincubation of spermatocytes with U0126 suppresses Nek2 activation, and that incubation of spermatocyte cell extracts with activated p90Rsk2 causes stimulation of Nek2 kinase activity. Furthermore, we show that the Nek2 kinase domain is a substrate for p90Rsk2 phosphorylation in vitro. These data establish a connection between the Erk1/p90Rsk2 pathway, Nek2 activation and chromosome condensation during the G2/M transition of the first meiotic prophase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1715-1727
Number of pages13
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Chromosome
  • MAPK
  • Meiosis
  • Mouse
  • Nek2
  • Spermatocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Anatomy


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