The Structural Basis for Coordinating Oogenesis and Folliculogenesis
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Oogenesis is a complex process that leads to the ovulation of developmentally competent oocytes. The process whereby the oocyte acquires meiotic competence involves the transcription and translation of key regulatory enzymes and signaling molecules, whose balance between production and degradation determinates arrest or oocyte meiotic progression. In mammals, ovarian follicular development and atresia are regulated by gonadotropins and intra-ovarian regulators that interact to promote primordial follicle activation, proliferation, survival and cellular differentiation. Changes in interactions between oocytes and somatic cells are associated with distinct modulations of gene expression at various stages of follicle development. In fact mural and cumulus cells, together with the oocyte, form a gap junction-mediated syncytium, allowing a paracrine bidirectional communication able to coordinate oocyte growth and maturation with differentiation of surrounding granulosa cells. This chapter will illustrate the role and the regulation of transzonal projections (TZPs) as a structural basis of the communication between granulosa cells and oocytes. Particular emphasis will be given to the involvement of TZPs in aspects that are relevant to the field of human assisted reproduction.
KeywordsOogenesis Folliculogenesis Transzonal Projections Paracrin Regulation
We recognize the continued support of the NIH, ESHE Fund, and Hall Family Foundation and past members of the Albertini laboratory.
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