PROBLEM: To investigate the protein phosphorylation pattern and role of products of c-erbB-1 and c-abl proto-oncogenes with known tyrosine kinase activity in preimplantation embryonic development in mice.
METHOD: The protein phosphorylation pattern was studied by in vitro 32P metabolic labeling of murine ova/embryos as well as by in vitro kinase assay performed directly on various ova/embryos extracts. The role of products of c-erbB-1 (170 kDa, receptor for epidermal growth factor [EGF]) and c-abl proto-oncogenes (150 kDa) was examined by in vitro culturing murine embryos in the presence of monoclonal antibodies to respective protein products and by co-culturing with EGF, the ligand for EGF receptor (EGF-R).
RESULTS: In vitro metabolic labeling of murine ova/embryos showed 32P incorporation into at least two protein bands of murine ova (Mr 81 and 36 kDa), six protein bands of two-cell (Mr 81, 36; and 97, 52, 22 and 19 kDa, respectively), six protein bands of morula (Mr 81, 36; 97, 22, and 19; and 33 kDa, respectively), and eight protein bands of blastocyst (81, 36; 97, 22, 19; and 115, 58, and 15 kDa, respectively), stage embryos; there were some specific bands in each stage. Prolonged labeling from 2 to 4 h not only resulted in a relative increase in 32P incorporation into these proteins but also revealed additional bands in morula (Mr 133 and 115 kD) and blastocyst (Mr 49, 33, and 31 kD) stage embryos. In vitro kinase assays performed directly on various ova/embryos extracts revealed at least three phosphoproteins (Mr 58, 36 and 33, respectively) that were common to ova, two-cell, morula, and early/late blastocyst stage embryos. Additionally, three protein bands each in murine ova and two-cell embryos (Mr 108, 81, 73 kDa, respectively), and four protein bands of late blastocyst (Mr 108, 73; 133 and 18 kDa, respectively) stage embryos were also revealed. Culture of two-cell embryos in the presence of EGF, the ligand for EGF-receptor, resulted in a concentration dependent increase (P< .001) in the number of cells per blastocyst. Monoclonal antibody to c-erbB-1 170 kDa protein (receptor for EGF) did not affect development of in vitro cultured murine embryos from two-cell to morula, but significantly (P<.001) inhibited the in vitro development of morula to late blastocyst stage. Monoclonal antibody to c-abl protein inhibited the development of murine embryos from two-cell to morula (P<.017), as well as, from morula to late blastocyst stage (P<.002 to .01).
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that the stage-specific protein phosphorylation pattern and specific products of c-erbB-1 and c-abl proto-oncogenes may have a role in preimplantation embryonic development in mice.