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Mol Reprod Dev. 2015 Feb;82(2):90-102. doi: 10.1002/mrd.22446. Epub 2014 Dec 23.

Role of focal adhesion kinase in oocyte-follicle communication.

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Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.


Germ cells require communication with associated somatic cells for normal gametogenesis, as exemplified by an oocyte that interacts with granulosa cells via paracrine factors as well as gap junctions located at sites of contact between these two cell types. The objective of the present study was to define the mechanisms by which cell-cell contact with the oocyte is controlled and to determine the extent that the oocyte actively participates in this association. Proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 (PTK2), a focal adhesion kinase, was found to be activated at sites of contact between the oocyte and trans-zonal cell processes from the surrounding granulosa cells. In order to determine the functional significance of oocyte-derived PTK2 signaling in oocyte-follicle communication, an oocyte-specific Ptk2 knockout was produced through a breeding strategy pairing a floxed Ptk2-CAT-eGFP mouse with the Zp3-Cre line. Since Ptk2-null mice never develop to birth, this represents the first opportunity to define the role of PTK2 in oocyte-follicle communication. Ablation of Ptk2 within the developing oocyte resulted in lower fertility with reduced numbers of pups, lower rates of blastocyst formation, and reduced cell numbers per blastocyst. Follicles containing Ptk2-null oocytes exhibited reduced oocyte diameter, reduced numbers of connexin 37 and 43 foci at the oocyte surface, and impaired dye coupling between oocyte and granulosa cells. These findings are consistent with a model in which PTK2 plays a critical role in establishing or maintaining oocyte-granulosa cell contacts that are essential for gap junction-mediated communication between granulosa cells and the oocyte.

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