In many cell types, the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) also named extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) is activated in response to a variety of extracellular growth factor-receptor interactions and leads to the transcriptional activation of immediate early genes, hereby influencing a number of tissue-specific biological activities, as cell proliferation, survival and differentiation. In one specific cell type however, the female germ cell, MAPK does not follow this canonical scheme. In oocytes, MAPK is activated independently of growth factors and tyrosine kinase receptors, acts independently of transcriptional regulation, plays a crucial role in controlling meiotic divisions, and is under the control of a peculiar upstream regulator, the kinase Mos. Mos was originally identified as the transforming gene of Moloney murine sarcoma virus and its cellular homologue was the first proto-oncogene to be molecularly cloned. What could be the specific roles of Mos that render it necessary for meiosis? Which unique functions could explain the evolutionary cost to have selected one gene to only serve for few hours in one very specific cell type? This review discusses the original features of MAPK activation by Mos and the roles of this module in oocytes
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