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Reproduction. 2013 May 21;145(6):555-65. doi: 10.1530/REP-13-0032. Print 2013 Jun.

Changes in granulosa cells' gene expression associated with increased oocyte competence in bovine.

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  • 1Département des sciences animales, Pavillon INAF, Faculté des sciences de l'agriculture et de l'alimentation, Centre de recherche en biologie de la reproduction, Université Laval, Quebec, Quebec, Canada G1V 0A6.


One of the challenges in mammalian reproduction is to understand the basic physiology of oocyte quality. It is believed that the follicle status is linked to developmental competence of the enclosed oocyte. To explore the link between follicles and competence in cows, previous research at our laboratory has developed an ovarian stimulation protocol that increases and then decreases oocyte quality according to the timing of oocyte recovery post-FSH withdrawal (coasting). Using this protocol, we have obtained the granulosa cells associated with oocytes of different qualities at selected times of coasting. Transcriptome analysis was done with Embryogene microarray slides and validation was performed by real-time PCR. Results show that the major changes in gene expression occurred from 20 to 44  h of coasting, when oocyte quality increases. Secondly, among upregulated genes (20-44  h), 25% were extracellular molecules, highlighting potential granulosa signaling cascades. Principal component analysis identified two patterns: one resembling the competence profile and another associated with follicle growth and atresia. Additionally, three major functional changes were identified: (i) the end of follicle growth (BMPR1B, IGF2, and RELN), involving interactions with the extracellular matrix (TFPI2); angiogenesis (NRP1), including early hypoxia, and potentially oxidative stress (GFPT2, TF, and VNN1) and (ii) apoptosis (KCNJ8) followed by iii) inflammation (ANKRD1). This unique window of analysis indicates a progressive hypoxia during coasting mixed with an increase in apoptosis and inflammation. Potential signaling pathways leading to competence have been identified and will require downstream testing. This preliminary analysis supports the potential role of the follicular differentiation in oocyte quality both during competence increase and decrease phases.

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