Gene expression in mouse ovarian follicle development in vivo versus an ex vivo alginate culture system

Elizabeth M. Parrish, Anaar Siletz, Min Xu, Teresa K. Woodruff, Lonnie D. Shea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Ovarian follicle maturation results from a complex interplay of endocrine, paracrine, and direct cell-cell interactions. This study compared the dynamic expression of key developmental genes during folliculogenesis in vivo and during in vitro culture in a 3D alginate hydrogel system. Candidate gene expression profiles were measured within mouse two-layered secondary follicles, multi-layered secondary follicles, and cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs). The expression of 20 genes involved in endocrine communication, growth signaling, and oocyte development was investigated by real-time PCR. Gene product levels were compared between i) follicles of similar stage and ii) COCs derived either in vivo or by in vitro culture. For follicles cultured for 4 days, the expression pattern and the expression level of 12 genes were the same in vivo and in vitro. Some endocrine (cytochrome P450, family 19, subfamily A, polypeptide 1 (Cyp19a1) and inhibin βA subunit (Inhba)) and growth-related genes (bone morphogenetic protein 15 (Bmp15), kit ligand (Kitl), and transforming growth factor β receptor 2 (Tgfbr2)) were downregulated relative to in vivo follicles. For COCs obtained from cultured follicles, endocrine-related genes (inhibin α-subunit (Inha) and Inhba) had increased expression relative to in vivo counterparts, whereas growth-related genes (Bmp15, growth differentiation factor 9, and kit oncogene (Kit)) and zona pellucida genes were decreased. However, most of the oocyte-specific genes (e.g. factor in the germline a (Figla), jagged 1 (Jag1), and Nlrp5 (Mater)) were expressed in vitro at the same level and with the same pattern as in vivo-derived follicles. These studies establish the similarities and differences between in vivo and in vitro cultured follicles, guiding the creation of environments that maximize follicle development and oocyte quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-318
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Embryology
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Gene expression in mouse ovarian follicle development in vivo versus an ex vivo alginate culture system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this