Programmed Cell Death Regulators in Oocyte Differentiation
Programmed cell death of oocytes occurs at the same time as cyst breakdown but the relationship between these two processes is not known. Females ectopically expressing the programmed cell death regulator, Bcl-2, in germ cells have more oocytes than normal at PND 8 but cyst breakdown has not been studied in these mice. Our current model is that programmed cell death is required for cysts to break apart. Supporting our model, cyst breakdown is inhibited in mice lacking the Bcl-2 family member, bax.
What regulates Bcl-2 family activity in oocytes is unknown. However, cysts do partially break down in bax mutants suggesting that Bcl-2 family independent pathways may also play a role. We are examining Bcl-2 family mediated programmed cell death as well as Bcl-2 independent programmed cell death in neonatal oocyte survival and cyst breakdown.