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Biol Reprod. 1999 Feb;60(2):365-73.

Restricted expression of WT1 messenger ribonucleic acid in immature ovarian follicles: uniformity in mammalian and avian species and maintenance during reproductive senescence.

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Division of Reproductive Biology, Department of Gyn/Ob, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, California 94305-5317, USA.


WT1 is a zinc finger protein with transcriptional repressor activity on several growth factor and growth factor receptor genes. In the ovary, a potential role for WT1 in the suppression of the development of immature follicles has been demonstrated. Here, gel retardation assays further showed that recombinant WT1 protein interacted with consensus DNA sequences in the inhibin-alpha gene promoter. We investigated the pattern of WT1 expression in a wide variety of species and also over the reproductive life span in rats. In chicken ovaries, Northern blot analysis revealed the presence of WT1 transcript in small healthy white follicles (1-5 mm in diameter) and its absence in small yellow (6-12 mm in diameter) or larger follicles (F1-F5). In pig and monkey ovaries, WT1 expression was limited to granulosa cells of preantral follicles, as shown by in situ hybridization analysis. In rats, Northern blot analyses demonstrated the presence of WT1 transcript in the ovaries of young (3-mo-old) and middle-aged (9-mo-old) rats on the proestrous day, with a decrease in old (12-mo-old) rats in persistent estrus. In situ hybridization analysis further suggested that the decrease in WT1 expression in aging ovaries was associated with fewer immature follicles. Thus, WT1 expression is restricted to immature follicles in diverse avian and mammalian species and over the reproductive life span in rats. These data demonstrated that WT1 is a marker for immature follicles and suggested a potential role of this transcriptional repressor in the slow growth of early follicles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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