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Decreased oocyte DAZL expression in mice results in increased litter size by modulating follicle-stimulating hormone-induced follicular growth

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    Rights statement: 2011 by the Society for the Study of Reproduction, Inc. This is an Open Access article, freely available through Biology of Reproduction’s Authors’ Choice option.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-93
Number of pages10
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


While the germ cell-specific RNA binding protein, DAZL, is essential for oocytes to survive meiotic arrest, DAZL heterozygous (het) mice have an increased ovulation rate that is associated with elevated inhibin B and decreased plasma follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). The relationship between decreased oocyte DAZL expression and enhanced follicular development in het mice was investigated using in vitro follicle cultures and in vivo modulation of endogenous FSH, by treating mice with inhibin and exogenous FSH. In vitro, follicles from het mice are more sensitive to FSH than those of wild-type (wt) mice and can grow in FSH concentrations that are deleterious to wild-type follicles. In vivo, despite no differences between genotypes in follicle population profiles, analysis of granulosa cell areas in antral follicles identified a significantly greater number of antral follicles with increased granulosa cell area in het ovaries. Modulation of FSH in vivo, using decreasing doses of FSH or ovine follicular fluid as a source of inhibin, confirmed the increased responsiveness of het antral follicles to FSH. Significantly more follicles expressing aromatase protein confirmed the earlier maturation of granulosa cells in het mice. In conclusion, it is suggested that DAZL expression represses specific unknown genes that regulate the response of granulosa cells to FSH. If this repression is reduced, as in DAZL het mice, then follicles can grow to the late follicular stage despite declining levels of circulating FSH, thus leading to more follicles ovulating and increased litter size.

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