Histochemistry and Cell Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 115–123 | Cite as

Dynamics of WNT signaling components in the human ovary from development to adulthood

  • Alisha M. Bothun
  • Dori C. WoodsEmail author
Original Paper


WNT signaling has been shown to play a pivotal role in mammalian gonad development and sex differentiation; however, its role in the developing human ovary has not been investigated. We analyzed a quantitative mass spectrometry dataset to determine the expression of WNT signaling components between 47 and 137 days of development and in adult ovarian cortex tissue. WNT signaling was identified within the top ten canonical pathways of proteins detected at every developmental stage examined. We further examined the specific localization of WNT signaling components glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3B), frizzled 2 (FZD2), and β-catenin (CTNNB1) within ovarian tissue. GSK3B was nearly ubiquitously expressed during fetal development, while FZD2 was specific to germ cell nests during early development. β-catenin exhibited translocation from primarily membrane bound during early ovarian development to cytoplasmic and nuclear staining specifically in early primordial follicles in the fetal ovary. This cytoplasmic and nuclear β-catenin persisted in primordial follicles in adult ovarian tissue, but returned to membrane-bound localization in secondary follicles. We conclude that WNT signaling components are expressed in the human ovary from early to mid-gestation and remain in the adult ovary, and observed evidence for canonical WNT signaling only in the oocytes of primordial follicles. Together, these data are indicative of a role for canonical WNT signaling via β-catenin nuclear translocation during human follicle formation and follicle maintenance.


WNT signaling Development Ovary β-Catenin 



The authors would also like to thank Monika Izdebski, Joseph Maglio, and Kena Patel for invaluable technical help in preparing samples for histological analysis. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1750996 to D.C.W. The ‘Laboratory of Developmental Biology’ was supported by NIH Award Number 5R24HD000836 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

418_2018_1729_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (44 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 43 KB)
418_2018_1729_MOESM2_ESM.tif (14.1 mb)
Supplementary Figure 1. Secondary only control images for immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence. For immunohistochemistry, primary antibodies were omitted from staining, and tissues were labeled with secondary antibody only and detected with DAB substrate (brown). Nuclei were counterstained with hematoxylin (blue) (a). For immunofluorescence, primary antibody was omitted, and tissues were labeled with Alexa Fluor 647 secondary antibody only. Nuclei were counterstained with Hoechst (b). Scale bars=50 µm (TIF 14485 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Aging and Infertility Research, Department of BiologyNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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