Oogenesis pp 93-108 | Cite as

Changes of Large-Scale Chromatin Configuration During Mammalian Oocyte Differentiation

  • Alberto Maria LucianoEmail author
  • Valentina Lodde


Mammalian oocyte development is characterized by impressive dynamic changes in chromatin structure and function within the germinal vesicle (GV). During meiotic arrest at diplotene stage, and particularly during the oocyte growth phase leading to the formation of the fully-grown and differentiated oocyte, the chromatin enclosed within the GV is subjected to several levels of regulation controlling both its structure and function. Morphologically, the chromosomes lose their individuality and form a loose chromatin mass, which in turn undergoes profound and dynamic rearrangements within the GV before the meiotic resumption. These large-scale chromatin configuration changes have been studied in several mammals and progressive condensation of the chromatin has been related to the achievement of meiotic and developmental potential. In this chapter we will give an overview of the scientific literature on this topic, highlighting how changes in chromatin configurations are related to both functional and structural modifications occurring in the oocyte nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments. Further, we will discuss the machinery regulating this complex process, including the fundamental role exerted by the follicular cells also throughout intracellular messenger dependent mechanism(s). Finally, we will discuss possible implications for the field of assisted reproductive technologies.


Chromatin configuration Karyosphere Transcriptional activity - Meiosis Developmental competence Oocyte growth 


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© Springer-Verlag London 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Reproductive and Developmental Biology Laboratory, Department of Health, Animal Science and Food SafetyUniversity of MilanMilanItaly

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