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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2012 Jan 2;348(1):87-94. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2011.07.043. Epub 2011 Jul 28.

Changes in ovarian protein expression during primordial follicle formation in the hamster.

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Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 986265 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-6265, USA.


Although many proteins have been shown to affect the transition of primordial follicles to the primary stage, factors regulating the formation of primordial follicles remains sketchy at best. Differentiation of somatic cells into early granulosa cells during ovarian morphogenesis is the hallmark of primordial follicle formation; hence, critical changes are expected in protein expression. We wanted to identify proteins, the expression of which would correlate with the formation of primordial follicles as a first step to determine their biological function in folliculogenesis. Proteins were extracted from embryonic (E15) and 8-day-old (P8) hamster ovaries and fractionated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Gels were stained with Proteosilver, and images of protein profiles corresponding to E15 and P8 ovaries were overlayed to identify protein spots showing altered expression. Some of the protein spots were extracted from SyproRuby-stained preparative gels, digested with trypsin, and analyzed by mass spectrometry. Both E15 and P8 ovaries had high molecular weight proteins at acidic, basic, and neutral ranges; however, we focused on small molecular weight proteins at 4-7 pH range. Many of those spots might represent post-translational modification. Mass spectrometric analysis revealed the identity of these proteins. The formation of primordial follicles on P8 correlated with many differentially and newly expressed proteins. Whereas Ebp1 expression was downregulated in ovarian somatic cells, Sfrs3 expression was specifically upregulated in newly formed granulosa cells of primordial follicles on P8. The results show for the first time that the morphogenesis of primordial follicles in the hamster coincides with altered and novel expression of proteins involved in cell proliferation, transcriptional regulation, and metabolism. Therefore, formation of primordial follicles is an active process requiring differentiation of somatic cells into early granulosa cells and their interaction with the oocytes.

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