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Mural granulosa cell gene expression associated with oocyte developmental competence

Jin-Yi Jiang1, Huiling Xiong2, Mingju Cao1, Xuhua Xia2, Marc-Andre Sirard3 and Benjamin K Tsang14*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Cellular & Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, ON K1Y 4E9, Canada

2 Department of Biology and Center for Advanced Research in Environmental Genomics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada

3 Centre de Recherche en Biologie de la Reproduction, Département de Sciences Animales, Université Laval, Ste-Foy, QuébecG1K 7P4, Canada

4 WCU Biomodulation Major, Department of Agricultural Biotechnology, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-921, Korea

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Journal of Ovarian Research 2010, 3:6  doi:10.1186/1757-2215-3-6

Published: 6 March 2010

Abstract

Background

Ovarian follicle development is a complex process. Paracrine interactions between somatic and germ cells are critical for normal follicular development and oocyte maturation. Studies have suggested that the health and function of the granulosa and cumulus cells may be reflective of the health status of the enclosed oocyte. The objective of the present study is to assess, using an in vivo immature rat model, gene expression profile in granulosa cells, which may be linked to the developmental competence of the oocyte. We hypothesized that expression of specific genes in granulosa cells may be correlated with the developmental competence of the oocyte.

Methods

Immature rats were injected with eCG and 24 h thereafter with anti-eCG antibody to induce follicular atresia or with pre-immune serum to stimulate follicle development. A high percentage (30-50%, normal developmental competence, NDC) of oocytes from eCG/pre-immune serum group developed to term after embryo transfer compared to those from eCG/anti-eCG (0%, poor developmental competence, PDC). Gene expression profiles of mural granulosa cells from the above oocyte-collected follicles were assessed by Affymetrix rat whole genome array.

Results

The result showed that twelve genes were up-regulated, while one gene was down-regulated more than 1.5 folds in the NDC group compared with those in the PDC group. Gene ontology classification showed that the up-regulated genes included lysyl oxidase (Lox) and nerve growth factor receptor associated protein 1 (Ngfrap1), which are important in the regulation of protein-lysine 6-oxidase activity, and in apoptosis induction, respectively. The down-regulated genes included glycoprotein-4-beta galactosyltransferase 2 (Ggbt2), which is involved in the regulation of extracellular matrix organization and biogenesis.

Conclusions

The data in the present study demonstrate a close association between specific gene expression in mural granulosa cells and the developmental competence of oocytes. This finding suggests that the most differentially expressed gene, lysyl oxidase, may be a candidate biomarker of oocyte health and useful for the selection of good quality oocytes for assisted reproduction.