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Exp Cell Res. 2008 Oct 15;314(17):3245-54. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2008.07.007. Epub 2008 Jul 15.

Mouse early oocytes are transiently polar: three-dimensional and ultrastructural analysis.

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Immuno-Biology Laboratory, The Methodist Hospital, The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


The oocytes of many invertebrate and non-mammalian vertebrate species are not only asymmetrical but also polar in the distribution of organelles, localized RNAs and proteins, and the oocyte polarity dictates the patterning of the future embryo. Polarily located within the oocytes of many species is the Balbiani body (Bb), which in Xenopus is known to be associated with the germinal granules responsible for the determination of germ cell fate. In contrast, in mammals, it is widely believed that the patterning of the embryo does not occur before implantation, and that oocytes are non-polar and symmetrical. Although the oocytes of many mammals, including mice and humans, contain Bbs, it remains unknown how and if the presence of Bbs relates to mouse oocyte and egg polarity. Using three-dimensional reconstruction of mouse neonatal oocytes, we showed that mouse early oocytes are both asymmetrical and transiently polar. In addition, the specifics of polarity in mouse oocytes are highly reminiscent of those in Xenopus early oocytes. Based on these findings, we conclude that the polarity of early oocytes imposed by the position of the centrioles at the cytoplasmic bridges is a fundamental and ancestral feature across the animal kingdom.

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