Cytoplasmic and nuclear maturation of oocytes in mammals – living in the shadow of cells developmental capability

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The pig is a polyestrous animal in which the ovarian cycle lasts about 21 days and results in ovulation of 10-25 oocytes. Ovum reaches 120-150 μm in diameter, with the surrounding corona radiata providing communication with the environment. The zona pellucida is composed of glycoproteins: ZP1, ZP2, ZP3. In the course of oogenesis, RNA and protein accumulation for embryonic development occurs. Maternal mRNA is the template for protein production. Nuclear, cytoplasmic and genomic maturity condition the ability of the ovum to undergo fertilization. There are several differences in protein expression profiles observed between in vitro and in vivo conditions. Oogenesis is the process of differentiating female primary sex cells into gametes. During development gonocytes migrate from the yolk sac into the primary gonads with TGF-1, fibronectin, and laminin regulating this process. Cell cycle is blocked in dictyotene. Primary oocyte maturation is resumed before each ovulation and lasts until the next block in metaphase II. At the moment of penetration of the sperm into the ovum, the metaphase block is broken. The oocytes, surrounded by a single layer of granular cells, form the ovarian follicle. The exchange of signals between the oocyte and the cumulus cells done by gap-junctions, as well as various endo and paracrine signals. The contact between the corona radiata cells provides substances necessary for growth, through the same gap junctions. Studies on follicular cells can be used to amplify the knowledge of gene expression in these cells, in order to open way for potential clinical applications.

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