Zinc dynamics regulate early ovarian follicle development

Yu Ying Chen, Si Chen, Kiwon Ok, Francesca E. Duncan, Thomas V. O'Halloran*, Teresa K. Woodruff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Zinc fluctuations regulate key steps in late oocyte and preimplantation embryo development; however, roles for zinc in preceding stages in early ovarian follicle development, when cooperative interactions exist between the oocyte and somatic cells, are unknown. To understand the roles of zinc during early follicle development, we applied single cell X-ray fluorescence microscopy, a radioactive zinc tracer, and a labile zinc probe to measure zinc in individual mouse oocytes and associated somatic cells within early follicles. Here, we report a significant stage-specific increase and compartmental redistribution in oocyte zinc content upon the initiation of early follicle growth. The increase in zinc correlates with the increased expression of specific zinc transporters, including two that are essential in oocyte maturation. While oocytes in follicles exhibit high tolerance to pronounced changes in zinc availability, somatic survival and proliferation are significantly more sensitive to zinc chelation or supplementation. Finally, transcriptomic, proteomic, and zinc loading analyses reveal enrichment of zinc targets in the ubiquitination pathway. Overall, these results demonstrate that distinct cell type–specific zinc regulations are required for follicle growth and indicate that physiological fluctuation in the localization and availability of this inorganic cofactor has fundamental functions in early gamete development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102731
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • follicle
  • folliculogenesis
  • germ cell
  • granulosa cell
  • oocyte
  • zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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