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Development. 1989 Jun;106(2):251-61.

Gene expression during mammalian oogenesis and early embryogenesis: quantification of three messenger RNAs abundant in fully grown mouse oocytes.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Roche Research Center, Nutley, New Jersey 07110.


Ribonuclease protection assays have been used to quantitatively assess changes in steady-state levels of specific mRNAs during oogenesis and early embryogenesis in mice. The mRNAs encode ZP3 (a glycoprotein that serves as a sperm receptor), LDH-B (heart-type lactate dehydrogenase), and MOM-1 (a protein of unknown function). MOM-1 and LDH-B are expressed in a variety of adult mouse tissues and midgestation embryos, whereas ZP3 expression is restricted completely to oocytes. All three mRNAs are expressed by growing mouse oocytes and accumulate to unusually high levels in fully grown oocytes as compared to somatic cells; 240,000, 200,000 and 74,000 copies mRNA per fully grown oocyte for ZP3, LDH-B and MOM-1, respectively. Steady-state levels of LDH-B and MOM-1 mRNA undergo a modest decline (approximately 20-40%) during ovulation when fully grown oocytes become unfertilized eggs and, in general, mirror the reported change in poly(A)+RNA levels during this period of development. On the other hand, the level of ZP3 mRNA declines dramatically (approximately 98%) during ovulation, from approximately 240,000 copies per oocyte to approximately 5000 copies per unfertilized egg, and ZP3 mRNA is undetectable in fertilized eggs (less than 1000 copies per fertilized egg). MOM-1 mRNA is expressed at relatively low levels in morulae (approximately 2000 copies per embryo) and blastocysts (approximately 5000 copies per embryo), whereas ZP3 mRNA remains undetectable (less than 1000 copies per embryo) at these stages of preimplantation development. These findings are discussed in the context of overall gene expression during oocyte growth, meiotic maturation and early embryogenesis in mice.

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