By using the whole cell voltage-clamp technique, we studied changes in plasma membrane permeability at different meiotic stages of bovine oocytes. Follicular oocytes were matured in vitro and activated by Ca2+ ionophore. Oocytes at germinal vesicle (GV), germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD), metaphase I (MI), metaphase II (MII), and meiosis exit were used for electrophysiological recording. By clamping the oocytes at -30 mV, we found that the L-type voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels were active at the GV stage and that their activity decreased after the GVBD stage. Furthermore, the resting potential decreased from the GV to the MI stage and increased again at MII. A significant decrease of the steady-state conductance occurred from the GV to the MI stage, followed by a sharp increase at the MII stage. With the addition of organic L-type Ca2+ channel blockers (nifedipine and verapamil), we inhibited the Ca2+ currents. However, only in the case of verapamil was there a decrease of in vitro maturation efficiency. Our results suggest that, in addition to the cumulus-oocyte junctions, the plasma membrane channels provide another mode of Ca2+ entry into bovine oocytes during meiosis.
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